President Donald Trump on Tuesday night revealed that he plans to meet North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un for a two-day summit in Vietnam on Feb. 27 and 28, as he also boasted about averting a deadly standoff with the rogue nation.
“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 with potentially millions of people killed,” Trump said during his State of the Union address. “Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. And Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.”
The statement confirmed Daily Ohio’s report earlier on Tuesday that Trump had told TV anchors that he would announce the date and location of the summit.
Should the meeting occur later this month as planned, it would be Trump’s second summit with Kim over the last year and the first time a U.S. president has twice met with the leader of the authoritarian regime. The two men held a historic first meeting in Singapore last June, during which they agreed on a framework for future negotiations, including that North Korea would begin to work toward “complete denuclearization.”
But several reports and intelligence officials have since claimed that North Korea has continued to surreptitiously strengthen its nuclear arsenal in the months since Kim and Trump first met. As recently as last week, senior U.S. intelligence leaders told a Senate panel they do not believe North Korea will completely dismantle its weapons program, which the Kim regime regards as essential to survival. Trump disputed the officials’ claims in a series of critical tweets.
“North Korea relationship is best it has ever been with U.S.,” he tweeted. “No testing, getting remains, hostages returned. Decent chance of Denuclearization…”
Trump administration officials have been quietly planning the president’s second summit with Kim for weeks. A senior White House official said the plans came together in mid-January when Trump welcomed Kim Yong Chol, a leading North Korean official, for a meeting in the Oval Office. U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun is also set to travel to North Korea this week to plan the high-level meeting.
During Trump’s remarks to TV anchors earlier on Tuesday, he also said that he plans to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his time abroad later this month, though it was not clear if their bilateral sit-down would also occur in Vietnam.
A Trump-Xi meeting could come as U.S. officials continue to negotiate the terms of a trade deal with China ahead of a March 1 deadline imposed by both countries. Two administration officials cautioned that the terms for such a meeting had yet to be agreed upon and discussions could end at any moment depending on the status of the trade talks.