As work gets underway for their second summit, US president Donald Trump is talking up the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un calling him a “capable” leader who will turn his country into a different kind of “Rocket — a economic one”.

The President also announced in a tweet the summit will take place in Hanoi, on February 27-28; he had announced the dates at his state of the union address.

Officials have started work on it and US special representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun returned Friday after talks with his counterpart in Pyongyang, Kim Hyok Chol.

Their discussion were focussed on “commitments (from the first summit, in Singapore last summer) of complete denuclearisation, transforming US-DPRK relations, and building a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula”, said the state department. They will meet again closer to the summit.

President Trump reported the meeting in a tweet and proceeded to talk it up, with a glowing assessment of Kim. “North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, will become a great Economic Powerhouse. He may surprise some but he won’t surprise me, because I have gotten to know him & fully understand how capable he is. North Korea will become a different kind of Rocket – an Economic one!”

Trump used to call Kim “Rocket-man” when they were trading insults, but since the start of a thaw in tensions leading up to their first summit, he has been conciliatory and complimentary as he pursues one of his key foreign policy initiatives, which critics believe has yielded not much else but photo-ops for Kim to enhance his profile globally.

While Trump and senior aides have spoken optimistically about getting Pyongyang to denuclearise completely and also give up its missiles programmes, US intelligence officials remain skeptical, and told lawmakers recently that in their assessment, North Korea is “unlikely to completely” give up its nuclear weapons.

Acknowledging that Pyongyang has not conducted missiles or nuclear tests and has “reversibly dismantled portions of its WMD infrastructure in a year, US intelligence said in a report that “North Korea retains its WMD capabilities, and… it is unlikely to give up all of its WMD stockpiles, delivery systems, and production capabilities”.

“North Korean leaders view nuclear arms as critical to regime survival,” it said.

Also read: How India stands to gain from Trump-Kim summit

It has been noted that though Kim has said — in his New Year address last month, for instance — that North Korea is not producing any m re nuclear weapons, he has not yet said what he plans to do with his existing arsenal.

And the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a US think-tank, said in a recent report that experts had discovered 20 previously undisclosed missile sites in the country.

Some experts have argued for the United States to abandon its goal of complete denuclearisation to managing a nuclear North Korea.

First Published: Feb 09, 2019 22:04 IST

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