Trump announces second summit with Kim Jong-un

US president and North Korean leader to meet in Vietnam on February 27th and 28th

US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un first met  in Singapore last June. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un first met in Singapore last June. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

 

US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will meet for a second time on February 27th and 28th in Vietnam, the president announced on Tuesday night, a development that was immediately welcomed by South Korea. Confirmation of the second summit between the two men was one of the key takeaways from Mr Trump’s second State of the Union address delivered on Tuesday night to a joint session of the Houses of Congress.

Mr Trump told the packed chamber in the US Capitol that while much work remained to be done in terms of the relationship between the United States and North Korea, his relationship with Kim Jong-un was a good one.

“If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” he said.

The two leaders met in Singapore last June, with North Korea agreeing to work toward the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula” and to build “new” relations between their countries. But since then there has been scant evidence of progress in the secretive state’s promise to move toward denuclearisation.

Preparatory talks

Mr Trump confirmed the second summit as Stephen Biegun, the Trump administration’s special representative for North Korea, arrived in Pyongyang for preparatory talks.

In keeping with previous State of the Union addresses, Mr Trump outlined his foreign policy priorities in his annual speech to Congress. Outlining his “new approach” to foreign policy unveiled during his presidential campaign, he declared: “Great nations do not fight endless wars.”

He referenced the US’s continued presence in Afghanistan, mentioning the ongoing talks between US officials and Afghan groups, including the Taliban. “We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement – but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace,” he said.

He also highlighted the progress that had been made in defeating Islamic State, also known as Isis, a theme he developed on Wednesday in a speech to the Global Coalition to Defeat Isis at the state department, an event attended by Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

Speaking just weeks after his defence secretary James Mattis resigned over the president’s surprise decision to remove US troops from Syria after declaring that Islamic State had been defeated, Mr Trump told the conference that “virtually all” territory held by the group in Iraq and Syria had been reclaimed. He said that, as early as next week, his administration could announce that coalition forces had captured “100 per cent” of the territory Islamic State once considered part of its caliphate within Syria.

Mueller investigation

Also in the State of the Union address Mr Trump made an apparent and unexpected reference to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, denouncing the “ridiculous partisan investigations” that are taking place.

“If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation,” he said. “It just doesn’t work that way! We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.”

He continued his attack on the ongoing investigations on Wednesday, when he described Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, as a “political hack”.

Mr Schiff has vowed to examine Mr Trump’s financial transactions as part of the committee’s investigation into electoral interference in the 2016 presidential election, an investigation that is separate to the ongoing Mueller investigation.