Kim Jong Un visit could restore old ties with Vietnam

Kim Jong Un is likely to revive ties with Vietnam during the week of the second U.S.-North Korea summit, according to a South Korean press report.

Kim, who may be weighing his transportation options ahead of his second meeting with President Donald Trump, could pay a visit to the tomb of Ho Chi Minh, the founder of Communist Vietnam, and exchange views with Vietnamese officials on economic reform, South Korean newspaper Seoul Shinmun reported Thursday.

Kim will be the first North Korean leader to set foot on Vietnamese soil in 55 years. During his father’s period of rule, relations deteriorated owing to changes in Vietnamese policy and as Hanoi normalized ties with Seoul in 1992.

Kim’s biological grandfather, Kim Il Sung, was friendly with Ho Chi Minh, and visited him in Hanoi in 1958 and 1964, according to the report. The two sides normalized relations in 1950, and Ho Chi Minh visited Pyongyang in 1957. In 1965, Kim Il Sung said North Korea sees the “Vietnamese struggle” as its own, and that Pyongyang joins China and Vietnam in shared objectives.

Relations between the two countries deteriorated after Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1978, a move North Korea described as a “betrayal of socialism.” North Korea also sided with China when war broke out between China and Vietnam in 1979.

Ahead of the summit, Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday he has a “very good relationship” with Kim Jong Un.

“Chairman Kim and I have a very good relationship. I wouldn’t be surprised to see something work out,” Trump said, adding he does not think the summit will be the last meeting he will have with the North Korean leader.

Trump also said North Korea will have to do “something that’s meaningful” if the regime wants an easing of sanctions.

South Korea may be seeking a reopening of tourism to the North and the Kaesong Industrial Complex if progress is made on denuclearization.

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported Thursday Seoul is likely to propose resuming tourism to the North’s Mount Kumgang region, and the reopening of Kaesong, if a denuclearization agreement is reached.

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