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US hopes post-war Vietnam proves fruitful setting for North Korea summit

  • Video report by ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward

The Americans are hoping Kim Jong-un can come to Hanoi, look and learn. See what could happen if North Korea were to normalise relations with the United States.

How their economy could blossom and how the international community would flock to invest.

In the two decades since Vietnam opened up and reformed, it has gone from being one of the poorest countries in the world to having one of the fastest growing economies in Asia.

But there might be another lesson Jong-un is keen to learn - how a small communist nation can defeat America in a war. The Vietnam War was one of the longest ever fought and the Americans were humiliated by their loss.

Kim Jong-un left by train on Saturday from Pyongyang to Hanoi.

This is the backdrop against which a second summit between President Trump and the North Korean leader is about to take place here in Hanoi.

The two men will arrive in the Vietnamese capital on Tuesday and we believe meet face to face once again on Thursday lunchtime.

The North Korea of 2019 has been compared to the Vietnam of 1989, when the socialist republic embraced Doi Moi, a programme of economic reform which recognised the private sector and opened up it’s markets to foreign investors.

Last year, Kim Jong-un introduced a new strategic line in North Korea, shifting his focus to the economy and he sent his foreign minister to Vietnam, to discuss the country’s socio-economic development model.

But even if Kim is showing a willingness to change, it seems highly unlikely he would consider the decentralisation of decision making which has been a key part in Vietnam’s development.

President Trump and Kim Jong-un are expected to meet in the Vietnamese capital on Tuesday. Credit: ITV News

North Korea also remains a nuclear threat to the world and the country is almost certainly continuing to expand its arsenal.

The country also has a dreadful record on human rights, just this week up to seventy critics of Kim Jong-un's foreign policy were reportedly sent to the gulag in an anti-corruption drive.

So before President Trump gets carried away contemplating what he describes as the "record breaking potential" of the North Korean economy, he must address the most pressing issue of de-nuclearisation.

He cannot fail to come away from this second summit without a concrete commitment from Kim. A clear, timetabled, agenda for North Korea to freeze and dismantle its nuclear programme.

The intent here in Hanoi is laudable, the parallels are tangible, and the diplomacy is thank goodness still the order of the day.

But the United States, more than anyone, should be careful of the parallels it draws between Vietnam and North Korea.