In an extended handshake encounter before a row of U.S. and North Korean flags lined side by side, the two leaders began their second summit in Vietnam with an exchange of smiles and brief statements to a small pool of reporters and photographers.
Trump said it is his “honor to be with Chairman Kim in Vietnam” and praised the host country for “rolling out the red carpet.”
“It’s great to be with you,” Trump told Kim, adding he felt the first summit in Singapore was “very successful,” despite meager progress on denuclearization by late 2018.
The two leaders appeared to make an extra effort to be friendly with each other. According to the White House, Kim said he “truly believes this successful summit is because of a courageous decision by Trump.”
Trump not only shook hands with Kim, but exhibited warmth to the North Korean leader who he referred to “little rocket man” in 2017. Before flashing cameras, Trump extended frequent pats on Kim’s shoulders, arms and hands. At one point, the president placed his arm around Kim, as Kim grinned but stayed quiet.
The North Korean leader kept his comments to a minimum but said a “lot of efforts” were necessary during the last 261 days, before he met again with Trump.
Kim did not elaborate on his comment, but he also said a “lot of patience was needed.” It was unclear whether he was referring to domestic or foreign policy.
“I will do my best because I saw everyone made great efforts for the summit,” the North Korean leader said.
Trump said North Korea has “tremendous economic potential,” a comment that was met with a positive response: Kim’s trademark grin. The president also said he wants to watch economic transformation happen and help to make it happen.
Trump and Kim invited U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and North Korean negotiator Kim Yong Chol to the dinner in Hanoi on Wednesday.
The event marks the first time the two leaders will sit down for dinner. The menu includes a green mango salad with scallops, Hanoi-style spring rolls, grilled cod and a traditional Vietnamese dessert, according to the White House.