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Posts tagged ‘United Land of Vietnam’

North Korea’s Kim leaves Vietnam after summit breakdown

March 02, 2019

DONG DANG, Vietnam (AP) — Smiling and holding up his clasped hands in a victorious pose, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Saturday boarded his private train at the Vietnam-China border for a 60-plus-hour ride home, ending a trip to Vietnam that saw a summit breakdown with President Donald Trump.

He spent his last day in Hanoi laying large red-and-yellow wreaths at a war memorial and at the mausoleum of national hero Ho Chi Minh, surrounded by Vietnamese soldiers in crisp white uniforms and his own entourage of top North Korean officials. At the border, he got out of his armored limousine and clasped his hands, waving to a crowd of people cheering his departure.

Since Trump flew home to Washington, Kim has stepped assuredly into the spotlight, keen to show himself as a poised leader taking his rightful place on the international stage. He met Friday with President Nguyen Phu Trong, the country’s top leader and Communist Party chief, grinning broadly as he was feted by top officials and escorted down a red carpet.

As Kim met with officials in Hanoi, the United States and North Korea have both been spinning their versions of what happened during one of the most high-profile diplomatic collapses in recent years. But some experts believe that Kim, by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Trump at a summit that captivated many around the world, will have one sure win: He’ll be able to portray himself to his people and supporters as the charismatic head of a nuclear-armed power, not an international pariah that starves its citizens so it can build nukes and missiles.

On Saturday, Kim, his trademark high-and-tight pompadour a bit disheveled, walked slowly behind a wreath with his name on it and a message that said, “I mourn the heroes and patriotic martyrs,” as it was taken to the Monument to War Heroes and Martyrs. He also oversaw the presentation of a large wreath at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where he bowed and walked inside.

Talks between Kim and Trump broke down on Thursday, the second day of their two-day summit, in a dispute over how much sanctions relief Washington should provide Pyongyang in return for nuclear disarmament steps. Despite a senior North Korean official’s suggestion — in a rushed, middle-of-the-night news conference called to dispute Trump’s version of the summit’s end — that Kim may have “lost the will” for diplomacy, the North Korean leader seems to have emerged from the diplomatic wreckage as a winner.

Kim answered questions with humor and ease when confronted by an aggressive international media contingent here. And, crucially for his image at home, he stood firm on his demands for the relief of sanctions imposed over a nuclear program North Korea says it built in the face of unrelenting U.S. hostility meant to end its leadership.

Kim, as he considers his next move after Hanoi, will be backed by state-controlled media that were already busy portraying the summit as a victory for their leader, saying Kim and Trump “appreciated that the second meeting in Hanoi offered an important occasion for deepening mutual respect and trust and putting the relations between the two countries on a new stage.”

North Korea said it had asked for partial sanctions relief in return for closing its main nuclear site at Yongbyon, an important nuclear-fuel production facility but not the only place the North is believed to make bomb fuel.

The United States also has been spinning the summit breakdown, with senior officials saying that North Korea wanted billions of dollars in sanctions relief in return for only partial dismantlement of Yongbyon, and demanded the North scrap more of its nuclear program for such a high level of concessions.

It’s unclear what will come next: Working-level meetings among experts to close the negotiating gap? Another summit? Or will Trump, consumed with controversy in Washington and burned by the failure in Hanoi, lose interest?

The worst-case scenario would be a return to the personal insults and threats of war between Trump and Kim in 2017 as the North staged a series of increasingly powerful weapons tests, including a nuclear detonation and displays of long-range missiles that can target the U.S. mainland, though experts believe those ICBMs are not yet complete.

Trump maintained ahead of the Hanoi summit that the economic benefits of a deal could push Kim to give up his nuclear ambitions. Kim came into the summit feeling confident that he could settle something that would end painful economic sanctions while letting him keep much of his nuclear program and only making a “a variety of gestures that mimic disarmament,” Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, wrote after the summit collapse. This outcome would be a signal that “the world must live with North Korea’s bomb, but Kim won’t rub it in anyone’s face.”

“Since it would be utter madness to try to topple a nuclear-armed dictator, it seems obvious which side should yield,” Lewis said. If Trump “does not accept the reality that we now live with a nuclear-armed North Korea, then we are doomed to the collapse of negotiations, and perhaps even a return to the terror of 2017.”

Klug reported from Hanoi, Vietnam. Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, contributed to this report. Foster Klug, AP’s bureau chief in South Korea, has covered the Koreas since 2005.

NKorea leader Kim Jong Un tours Hanoi after summit breakdown

March 01, 2019

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A day after his stunning summit breakdown with Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiled broadly as he strode down a red carpet with Vietnam’s president Friday, a military band playing as stiff-backed soldiers goose-stepped by.

With Trump back in Washington, and both countries spinning their version of what happened during one of the most high-profile diplomatic collapses in recent years, Kim seemed confident and poised — a world leader taking his place on the international stage — as he stepped out of his armored limousine, embraced President Nguyen Phu Trong, the country’s top leader and Communist Party chief, and accepted a bouquet of flowers from a beaming girl.

On Saturday he is expected to be driven back to the border with China where he will board his armored train for a 60-plus-hour trip, through the sprawl of China, back home to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital. But Friday saw his black limousine rolling beneath fluttering Vietnamese and North Korean flags — the U.S. ones have been mostly taken down — as a large crowd jammed the city’s streets and waved flowers.

Talks between Kim and Trump broke down on Thursday, the second day of their two-day summit, in a dispute over how much sanctions relief Washington should provide Pyongyang in return for nuclear disarmament steps. Despite a senior North Korean official’s suggestion — in a rushed, middle-of-the-night news conference called to dispute Trump’s version of the summit’s end — that Kim may have “lost the will” for diplomacy, the North Korean leader seems to have emerged from the diplomatic wreckage as a winner.

Kim stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Trump at the summit, an image that allows his propaganda services to portray him to his people and supporters as the leader of a nuclear-armed power, not an international pariah that starves its citizens so it can build nukes and missiles. He answered questions with humor and ease when confronted by an aggressive international media contingent here. And, crucially for his image at home, he stood firm on his demands for the relief of sanctions imposed over a nuclear program North Korea says it built in the face of unrelenting U.S. hostility meant to end its leadership.

Kim, as he considers his next move after Hanoi, will also be backed by state-controlled media that were already busy portraying the summit as a victory for their leader, saying Kim and Trump “appreciated that the second meeting in Hanoi offered an important occasion for deepening mutual respect and trust and putting the relations between the two countries on a new stage.”

North Korea said it had asked for partial sanctions relief in return for closing its main nuclear site at Yongbyon, an important nuclear-fuel production facility but not the only place the North is believed to make bomb fuel.

The United States also put its interpretation on the summit breakdown, with senior officials saying that North Korea wanted billions of dollars in sanctions relief in return for only partial dismantlement of Yongbyon, and demanded the North scrap more of its nuclear program for such a high level of concessions.

It’s unclear what will come next: Working-level meetings among experts to close the negotiating gap? Another summit? Or will Trump, consumed with controversy in Washington and burned by the failure in Hanoi, lose interest?

The worst-case scenario would be a return to the personal insults and threats of war between Trump and Kim in 2017 as the North staged a series of increasingly powerful weapons tests, including a nuclear detonation and displays of long-range missiles that can target the U.S. mainland, though experts believe those ICBMs are not yet complete.

Trump maintained ahead of the Hanoi summit that the economic benefits of a deal could push Kim to give up his nuclear ambitions. Kim came into the summit feeling confident that he could settle something that would end painful economic sanctions while letting him keep much of his nuclear program and only making a “a variety of gestures that mimic disarmament,” Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, wrote after the summit collapse. This outcome would be a signal that “the world must live with North Korea’s bomb, but Kim won’t rub it in anyone’s face.”

“Since it would be utter madness to try to topple a nuclear-armed dictator, it seems obvious which side should yield,” Lewis said. If Trump “does not accept the reality that we now live with a nuclear-armed North Korea, then we are doomed to the collapse of negotiations, and perhaps even a return to the terror of 2017.”

AP writer Hyung-jin Kim in Hanoi contributed to this report. Foster Klug, AP’s bureau chief in South Korea, has covered the Koreas since 2005.

Before meeting Kim, Trump oversees big Vietnamese plane deal

February 27, 2019
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — President Donald Trump and Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong presided over the signing of several trade deals in Hanoi on Wednesday, including agreements to sell the booming Southeast Asian country 110 Boeing planes worth billions of dollars.
The deals give Trump tangible progress to take home ahead of meetings expected for later in the day with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the Vietnamese capital. Those talks, which follow an initial summit in Singapore last year, are focused on North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and seeking peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Trump has downplayed the likelihood of a breakthrough at the summit. “Hopefully great things will happen later on with our meeting but a lot of good things are happening before, and that’s the signing of trade deals with the United States, and we appreciate it very much,” Trump told Nguyen as the trade agreements were being unveiled.
In the biggest of the deals, Chicago-based aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. said it is selling 100 of its 737 MAX planes to Vietnamese low-cost carrier Vietjet. The privately owned carrier operates domestic and regional flights using Airbus planes.
Boeing and Vietjet said their deal was worth $12.7 billion at list prices. Airlines typically negotiate discounts for bulk orders. Vietjet is doubling down on its bet for the 737 MAX, which is an updated version of the workhorse single-aisle 737 model. It already had 100 of the planes on order following a 2016 deal, though none have been delivered so far.
The deal marks a major confidence boost for Boeing, which has faced questions about the plane’s safety since a 737 MAX 8 operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea, killing all on board, just minutes after taking off from Jakarta on Oct. 29.
Boeing sealed a second sale to Bamboo Airways of 10 787 Dreamliners, which they valued at $3 billion. The startup airline was founded in 2017 and began operating domestic flights in January. It is owned by Hanoi-based conglomerate FLC Group and already had 20 Dreamliners on offer.
U.S.-based aviation technology company Sabre also inked a deal with the flag carrier Vietnam Airlines during Trump’s visit. It said the memorandum of understanding has a “potential value” of $300 million.
The deals follow a determination by the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this month that Vietnam now meets international standards for aviation safety. That decision, which follows an assessment by the agency in August, would allow Vietnamese airlines to fly to the United States and to cooperate with U.S. carriers.
There are currently no direct flights between the two countries.

Vietnam vows ‘maximum level’ security for Trump-Kim summit

February 25, 2019
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — With North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on an armored train barreling through China toward Vietnam’s capital, and U.S. President Donald Trump about to board a jet for Hanoi, Vietnamese officials scrambled Monday to finish preparations for a rushed summit that will capture global attention.
Officials in Hanoi said they had about 10 days to prepare for the summit — much less than the nearly two months they said Singapore was given for the first Trump-Kim meeting last year— but still vowed to provide airtight security for the two leaders.
“Security will be at the maximum level,” Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Hoai Trung told reporters at a briefing meant to showcase the nation’s efforts to welcome Kim and Trump. Another official, Nguyen Manh Hung, the leader of the information ministry, said the 3,000 journalists from 40 countries expected in Hanoi could rely on his agency as “you’d count on a family member.”
The world will be watching as Trump and Kim deal with one of Asia’s biggest security challenges: North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear program that stands on the verge of viably threatening any target on the planet.
Although many experts are skeptical that Kim will give up the nukes he likely sees as his best guarantee of continued rule, there was a palpable, carnival-like excitement among many in Hanoi as the final preparations were put in place.
T-shirts were being sold bearing Kim’s face along with the phrase “Rocket Man,” a nod to the insulting nickname Trump gave Kim in 2017, when North Korean weapons tests and back-and-forth threats by the leaders had many fearing war. Kindergarteners dressed in traditional Korean Hanbok were practicing songs meant to welcome Kim. Grinning tourists were posing in front of the hundreds of U.S. and North Korean flags around the city.
The ultra-tight security will be appreciated by North Korean authorities, who are extremely vigilant about the safety of Kim, the third member of his family to rule the North with absolute power. Kim’s decision to take a train, not a plane, may have been influenced by better ability to control security. When Kim flew to Singapore, North Korea borrowed a Chinese plane.
Vietnam is eager to show off its huge economic and development improvements since the destruction of the Vietnam War, but the country also tolerates no dissent and is able to provide the kind of firm hand not allowed by more democratic potential hosts.
Take the reaction to two men impersonating Kim and Trump who’d been posing for pictures with curious onlookers ahead of the summit. Last week, the Kim lookalike, whose name is Lee Howard Ho Wun, posted on Facebook that about 15 police or immigration officers demanded a mandatory “interview” and threatened him with deportation. He said officials later told him that his visa was invalid and he had to leave the country.
“I feel a little bit annoyed,” the Hong Kong-based impersonator, who uses the name Howard X, said as he checked out of his hotel. “But what is to be expected of a one-party state with no sense of humor?”
Vietnam has also announced an unprecedented traffic ban along a possible arrival route for Kim. The Communist Party’s Nhan Dan newspaper quoted the Roads Department as saying the ban will affect the 169-kilometer (105-mile) stretch of Highway One from Dong Dang, on the border with China, to Hanoi.
Hundreds of soldiers guarded the area near the Dong Dang railway station on Monday ahead of Kim’s expected arrival. Kim may get off his train in Dong Dang and finish his journey to Hanoi by car. There are high expectations for the Hanoi summit after a vague declaration at the first meeting in June in Singapore that disappointed many.
In a meeting with senior aides in Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday that the Trump-Kim talks would be a critical opportunity to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula. Moon, who met Kim three times last year and has lobbied hard to revive nuclear diplomacy between the U.S. and North Korea, is eager for a breakthrough that would allow him to push ambitious plans for inter-Korean engagement, including lucrative joint economic projects that are held back by U.S.-led sanctions against the North.
“If President Trump succeeds in dissolving the world’s last remaining Cold War rivalry, it will become yet another great feat that will be indelibly recorded in world history,” Moon said. Trump, via Twitter, has worked to temper those expectations, predicting before leaving for Hanoi a “continuation of the progress” made in Singapore but adding a tantalizing nod to “Denuclearization?” He also said that Kim knows that “without nuclear weapons, his country could fast become one of the great economic powers anywhere in the World.”
North Korea has spent decades, at great political and economic sacrifice, building its nuclear program, and there is widespread skepticism among experts that it will give away that program cheaply. South Korean media have reported that Trump and Kim might strike a deal that stops short of a hoped-for roadmap for full North Korean denuclearization.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on “Fox News Sunday” that he was hoping for a “substantive step forward.” He cautioned, “it may not happen, but I hope that it will.”
AP journalists Yves Dam Van in Dong Dang and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.

Vietnam to hold state funeral for President Tran Dai Quang

September 24, 2018

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam will hold a state funeral and national mourning this week for President Tran Dai Quang, who died last week of a viral illness at age 61. Flags will fly at half-staff and entertainment activities will be canceled during the two-day funeral that starts Wednesday, the Communist Party and government announced.

Quang will be buried in his home village in northern Ninh Binh province, some 115 kilometers (72 miles) south of Hanoi on Thursday. His passing is a “great loss to our Party, state and people,” the announcement said.

He died at a Hanoi hospital on Friday. State media quoted a government doctor as saying he died due to a rare virus but the reports did not identify it. World leaders have sent condolences. President Donald Trump, with whom Quang hosted his first state visit to the communist country last year, called Quang a “great friend of the United States” while Chinese President Xi Jinping said Quang was “close comrade and friend of the Chinese people.”

A career security officer, Quang rose through the ranks to be minister of public security in 2011 and was elected by the National Assembly as the nation’s president in April 2016. Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh has been named acting president. No date has been given for the election of a new president.

The country’s other top leaders are Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan. Analysts say Quang’s death is unlikely to shake up the Communist country’s politics which are led collectively.

Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang dead at 61 due to illness

September 21, 2018

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, the country’s second in command after the Communist party’s leader, died Friday of a serious illness, the government said. He was 61. The website statement said Quang passed away despite “utmost efforts to treat him by Vietnamese and foreign professors and doctors and care by the Party and State leaders.” It said he died at the 108 Military Hospital in Hanoi but did not elaborate on his illness.

Quang hosted President Donald Trump during his first state visit to the communist country last year where Trump attended a summit of Pacific Rim leaders. His last public appearance was at a Politburo meeting of the ruling Communist Party and a reception for a Chinese delegation on Wednesday. He looked frail on the state-run Vietnam Television broadcast.

Quang did not appear in public for more than a month last year, raising speculation about his health. Born in northern Ninh Binh province, Quang attended a police college and rose through the ranks at various positions at the Ministry of Public Security before being appointed minister in 2011.

A career security officer and four-star general, Quang was elected president in April 2016 by the Communist-dominated National Assembly, effectively becoming the second most powerful man in the country after General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

The National Assembly is scheduled to convene a session next month and expected to elect a new president.

Vietnam gives harsh jail terms to 6 for advocating democracy

April 06, 2018

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Six human rights activists were sentenced to harsh prison terms in Vietnam after being convicted of attempting to overthrow the government by advocating a multiparty democracy. Prominent human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai received the most severe penalty of 15 years in prison and five years of house arrest at the one-day trial Thursday, said his lawyer Nguyen Van Mieng. The others received sentences from seven to 12 years.

They were charged with affiliating with a group called Brotherhood for Democracy, whose purpose was to change the leadership of the Communist Party and build a multiparty system. “The sentences are too harsh to the defendants,” Mieng said. “They fought for human rights, they fought for the rights of multi-party system … which are recognized achievements of mankind, but the court sees it as serious (threat) to the regime.”

Five of the defendants including Dai maintained they were innocent because what they did was right, Mieng said. One defendant confessed to the crime and got the most lenient sentence, he added. “The purpose of the group is to change the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam, build a multi-party system,” the official Vietnam News Agency quoted the verdict as saying. “The defendants’ act is not fight for democracy, but acts that aim at overthrowing the people’s administration.”

“The defendants’ act is especially serious because it directly impacts the survival of the people’s administration,” it said. Prosecutors identified Dai as the mastermind of the group who recruited members and sought financing from foreign organizations and individuals, which totaled more than $80,000, VNA reported earlier.

Dai and four others had previously been jailed for violating national security laws, and Dai’s license to practice law was revoked. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the United States was deeply troubled by the harsh sentences under a “vague charge” and called for the release of all “prisoners of conscience” immediately.

“Individuals have the right to the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, both online and offline,” she said in a statement. “The United States is deeply concerned by the Vietnamese government’s efforts to restrict these rights, through a disturbing trend of increased arrests, convictions, and harsh sentences of peaceful activists.”

Speaking to reporters at a regular briefing Thursday, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said there are no “prisoners of conscience” in Vietnam and no one has been arrested for freedom of expression.

“In Vietnam, like other countries in the world, all acts that violate the laws are seriously dealt with in accordance with law,” she said. Amnesty International says 97 people are serving jail sentences for violating national security laws in Vietnam, while Human Rights Watch counts 119.

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