North Korea confirms leader on train to summit

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un inspects Chunghung farm in Samjiyon County in this undated

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un inspects Chunghung farm in Samjiyon County in this undated

The second summit in Hanoi takes place following the historic meeting in Singapore last June where Kim and Trump reached a vaguely worded commitment from North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapon program. Their first summit last June in Singapore ended without substantive agreements and triggered a months-long stalemate in negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang as they struggled with the sequencing of North Korea's nuclear disarmament and the removal of US -led sanctions against the North.

Earlier in the day, Russian news agency TASS reported that Kim had departed from Pyongyang on his personal train, with the final destination set as Hanoi, Vietnam.

But progress has been scant since then.

The former Central Intelligence Agency officer said the North Korean leader expressed a strong desire to improve ties with the United States as a way to build confidence between them, which he said was needed to end the nuclear weapons programme. Streets around the two places have been beautified with flowers and the flags of North Korea, the U.S and Vietnam.

Kim's train will reportedly stop at the Vietnamese border station of Dong Dang, after which he will proceed by vehicle to Hanoi, with local authorities planning to close the stretch of road that he will travel on between the station and the capital.

Local Vietnamese and South Korean media reported that a large cohort of North Korean officials went to survey a train station near to where Vietnam borders China, prompting further speculation he was arriving by train.

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Vietnam has announced a traffic ban along Kim's possible arrival route.

Travel by train has been a favorite mode of transport for Kim Jong Un, and his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung.

American intelligence officials have said they believe Kim is unlikely to ever relinquish all of his nuclear arsenal, and United Nations monitors have reported that in recent months North Korea had taken steps to hide, disperse and protect its weapons.

Previously, Vietnam confirmed Kim would visit Vietnam in response to an invitation from Vietnam's President Nguyen Phu Trong, who is also the head of the ruling Communist Party.

At the same time, some foreign media organisations received a note from Vietnam's foreign ministry prohibiting live broadcasts in and around the Melia hotel and Hoan Kiem lake in the centre of Hanoi.

Several hotels visited by Reuters on Saturday around the scenic Hoan Kiem lake said they had been told by the authorities to restrict access to their rooftops.

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