Kim arrived in Vietnam by train on Tuesday morning, after traveling through the whole of China for about three days. At the Vietnamese border town of Dong Dang, the North Korean leader switched to a black limousine that took him to Hanoi. Upon his arrival he met with Nguyen Phu Trong, the Vietnamese president and secretary general of the country's Communist Party.
On 23 February 2019, Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Pham Binh Minh, as well as a number of high-ranking Vietnamese government officials opened the International Press Centre to cover the 2019 North Korea–United States Summit in Hanoi. Why did the American and North Korean sides not choose Singapore again to continue the negotiations, despite the city-state having sufficient material and technical potential and capabilities to ensure the security of this event?
Sputnik has discussed the issue with Vietnamese international political and military expert Colonel Nguyen Minh Tam.
“The answer to this question is easy to give if you know at least a little of history of Vietnamese diplomacy during the period of the Resistance War Against American aggression. Let’s recall the Paris Agreement. Then the parties chose and changed the venue many times. Moscow and Beijing, of course, were rejected by the American side. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam rejected Ottawa (Canada) and London. Warsaw and Rome also did not fit. Finally, both sides accepted Paris as a place for negotiations. For the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), the choice of Paris was very important for three reasons", Nguyen Minh Tam said.
Looking back at the DPRK–USA Singapore Summit in June 2018, we can see many problems to which both sides simply “attracted each other's attention” but did not offer concrete solutions. “But the fact that has received the most criticism was that the dominant American and Western media in Singapore deliberately ignored statements about the position of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and were aimed only at promoting the views of Donald Trump”, Nguyen Minh Tam.
“The world only hears and knows what the Americans say about their resolute demands on North Korea to completely abandon the development of its nuclear missile programme. The American and Western media completely ignore or rather hide the statements by the DPRK leadership about the conditions that the American side should satisfy, except for the lifting of sanctions against North Korea, which the world has heard for 65 years now”.
“In our opinion, this is a key point for a qualitative assessment of the results of the DPRK–US Hanoi Summit in Vietnam next week*", Nguyen Minh Tam said.
“In my opinion, a breakthrough is not worth waiting for. For Pyongyang, the three most important issues in these negotiations are: firstly, the lifting of the US blockade and the lifting of sanctions against the DPRK. Secondly, the signing of an agreement to end the war (instead of the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement signed in Panmunjom), guaranteeing that the DPRK would not again be subjected to aggression in any form (as in 1950 the United States used the UN flag to invade Korea).
Thirdly, the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea so that ‘the Koreans themselves could decide the question of the unification of Korea’. It is the third point that the American and Western media are trying to ignore and hide. And the value of the second clause — on the agreement to ending the war — is trying to be belittled in every possible way”, Colonel Nguyen Min Tam noted.
But the United States completely ignores the presence of its military base in South Korea with more than 20,000 troops, which is equivalent to 5 brigades. As for the economic aspect (which is actually not very important), the US president announced the “easing sanctions” only if North Korea fulfils Washington’s conditions.
It is because of such a large disparity in the sides’ positions that it is difficult to hope for a breakthrough in the negotiations at the DPRK–US Hanoi Summit in Vietnam in February 2019. At best, both parties may only detail some of the issues of principle agreed in Singapore in June 2018.
By agreeing to choose Hanoi as the venue for the second US-North Korea summit, the DPRK, of course, wants to convey through more objective media in Vietnam to the world community its important message. And it will be a pity if the Vietnamese media do not do this, as the French did with Vietnam at the Paris Peace Conference on the Vietnam War (1968-1973).
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Nguyen Minh Tam and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
*The interview was made last week.