US negotiating with North Korea on next summit venue, Trump says
By KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 6, 2019
SEOUL, South Korea — The United States is “negotiating a location” for a second summit with North Korea, President Donald Trump said, as a newspaper reported that the Vietnamese capital is a leading candidate.
Trump’s comments came nearly a week after Kim Jong Un said in his New Year’s speech that he was ready to meet with the president at any time but warned the United States against pushing ahead with economic sanctions.
The U.S. administration insists on maintaining the punishing measures aimed at forcing the North to give up its nuclear weapons. But Pyongyang seeks a reciprocal approach, with rewards including eased sanctions for steps already taken.
The president told reporters outside the White House on Sunday that his administration is “doing very well” with North Korea, citing the lack of missile tests as progress.
“When I came here, this country was headed to war with North Korea and now we have a very good dialogue going,” Trump said in the televised remarks.
"You would right now be in a nice, big fat war in Asia with North Korea if I wasn't elected president,” he said, adding that he has “indirectly spoken to Chairman Kim.”
Trump refused to elaborate, but said last week that he had received a “great letter” from Kim.
A surge in diplomacy that began last year has eased tensions after a series of missile and nuclear tests and threats of war by Trump and Kim.
Trump, who first met with Kim in an unprecedented U.S.-North Korean summit on June 12 in Singapore, has said previously that he hoped to hold another meeting early this year. His remarks on Sunday went a step further by suggesting that logistics are being discussed.
“We’re negotiating a location. It will be announced probably in the not-too-distant future,” he said before leaving for Camp David in Maryland. “But the sanctions remain in full force and effect and they will until we have some real, positive proof.”
The potential for another summit has prompted a guessing game over possible venues.
State Department officials discussed summit planning with North Korean counterparts during recent meetings in Hanoi, fueling speculation that the city could host the event, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday.
Munhwa Ilbo cited unnamed diplomatic sources in Seoul and Washington. It noted that Vietnam has diplomatic relations with both sides and has the symbolic value of being a communist country that has reformed its economy.
The report could not be independently confirmed. A similar guessing game erupted in the media ahead of the first summit earlier this year.
Trump and Kim reached a vague agreement to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” during their meeting in Singapore. But talks have since stalled over disagreements about what that means.
During his New Year’s speech, the North Korean leader said he hopes to meet again with Trump but warned the U.S. not to test his country’s patience with sanctions. He also said it should not resume joint military exercises with South Korea.
Stars and Stripes correspondent Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.