HANOI — US President Donald Trump touted North Korea’s “AWESOME” future if his “friend” Kim Jong Un, whom he meets for a high-stakes dinner later Wednesday, agrees to give up his nuclear arsenal.
Trump’s enthusiastic tweet came hours before a second summit in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi to build on their historic first meeting in Singapore last June.
In just a few words, Trump encapsulated his fervent belief that only his uniquely personal brand of diplomacy and business acumen can break a stand-off with the isolated, nuclear-armed state that has bedevilled US leaders ever since the end of the Korean war in 1953.
Trump, who has previously spoken of the “love” between him and the North Korean strongman, said that by abandoning nuclear weapons the country would very quickly emulate Vietnam — a communist country once locked in conflict with the United States, but now a thriving trade partner.
“The potential is AWESOME, a great opportunity, like almost none other in history, for my friend Kim Jong Un. We will know fairly soon - Very Interesting!” Trump tweeted.
Trump has torn up the script by bringing Kim out of the cold, giving him a legitimacy once considered unthinkable in Washington, which has long seen North Korea as the world’s most repressive state.
But now there is intense pressure for results.
The Singapore summit ended only with a vague statement promising to work “towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.
Since then Washington and Pyongyang have disagreed even on what this means. And while North Korea has now gone more than a year without conducting missile and nuclear tests, it has done nothing to roll back the arsenal already built.
That leaves Trump, who claimed after Singapore that North Korea is “no longer a nuclear threat,” scrambling to get something concrete out of Kim in Hanoi — or face growing criticism that he is being played by the man about half his age.
On the defensive, Trump said in another tweet Wednesday that opponents in the Democratic Party should “stop talking about what I should do with North Korea and ask themselves instead why they didn’t do ‘it’ during eight years of the (Barack) Obama Administration?”
The Kim-Trump relationship, bringing together two leaders fond of showmanship, has turned into the diplomatic equivalent of a Hollywood odd-couple bromance.
Before the Singapore get-together they were slinging bizarre insults — Trump calling Kim “rocket man” and Kim calling him a “dotard” in response. With North Korea then busily testing missiles and conducting earth-shaking underground nuclear tests, analysts feared that the duo were egging each other on toward a catastrophic confrontation.