Vietnam has reportedly expressed an interest in hosting the second proposed summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump.
High ranking Vietnamese officials told the South Korean government that they are interested in hosting the meeting between the North Korean and US leaders if it goes ahead, a South Korean official told CNN.
The same government source repeated earlier claims that North Korean officials had informally expressed regret that a Vietnamese national was charged with killing Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of Kim Jong-un, although clarified that this was not an apology or admission of responsibility.
North Korea has vehemently denied it was behind Kim’s assassination in Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.
Vietnamese citizen Doan Thi Huong, 29, and an Indonesian woman Siti Aisyah, 25 are currently standing trial for the murder after they smeared lethal VX nerve agent on his face. Their defence lawyers claim they were duped by North Korean intelligence into believing they were taking part in a TV gameshow.
The incident shook Vietnam’s ties with North Korea but the latest reports would suggest that there has been a thaw, in particular as they come on the back of a high-profile visit to the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, by Ri Yong-ho, the North Korean foreign minister.
Vietnam was previously suggested as a neutral location for the first meeting of the North Korean and US leaders in June.
Writing for the East Asia Forum in March, Vu Minh Khuong, associate professor at Singapore University’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, described Hanoi as a symbolic choice as the US and Vietnam had reconciled past grievances, transforming the Southeast Asian nation’s economy.
“Hanoi as a city reflects how, in only one generation, diplomatic relations can be transformed from hostile to collaborative and mutually supportive,” he wrote.
In the end, Singapore was chosen as the venue for the historic summit.
The timing for a second encounter between Kim and President Trump is currently on hold amid stalled talks over the question of North Korea’s nuclear disarmament.
North Korea on Thursday blamed the US for the delay in progress, reported Bloomberg news, citing comments from the North’s state newswire, KCNA.
Pyongyang accused Washington of not taking corresponding measures to its “excessive gifts” to the US in its denuclearisation process.
“How can a negotiation train move when North Korea is the only one moving and the US is standing still,” said KCNA. “We are waiting with patience.”