Vietnam: A reliable host country for the second U.S. - N. Korea Summit
Vietnam: A reliable host country for the second U.S. - N. Korea Summit
  • Choi Nam-suk
  • 승인 2019.02.21 11:43
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North Korea leader Kim Jong Un (left), US President Donald Trump

The second U.S – N.Korea summit, expected to take place on February 27-28 in Hanoi, Vietnam, is becoming the main focus of the political world, as well as attracting fervent public attention. In addition to the expectations that US President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un will achieve decisive breakthroughs at the meeting, international observers are also seeking answers to the question of why both the U.S. and N.Korea chose Vietnam, and how Vietnam can contribute to the process of resolving nuclear issues in the Korean peninsula as well as improving US – N.Korea relations...

Why Vietnam? 

Firstly, the role and position of Vietnam in the international arena has been constantly improved in recent years. Economically, in the context of the global economy in 2018 facing many risks and challenges due to the emergence of trade protectionism, the US-China trade war..., Vietnam has emerged as a bright spot with a GDP growth rate among the highest in the world, becoming the centre in the global supply chain for production, trade and investment. Regarding foreign affairs, Vietnam has played an increasingly active role in the region and the world. Vietnam is known as a country of stable political and security environment, friendly people, and has successfully held important international conferences such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit 2017 in Da Nang, World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN 2018 in Hanoi, etc., thereby showing the ability to guarantee in all aspects, especially security and logistics, for an important meeting like Trump - Kim summit. Moreover, geologically, Hanoi is only 2,670 km from Pyongyang, so Kim Jong Un will have many options of travelling to the meeting. By plane, the N.Korea leader can choose his own special aircraft, or take a short flight passing through Chinese airspace only, which would make him feel safer. Traveling by train is also an appropriate route, because the railway systems of Vietnam, China and N.Korea are be interconnected. Specifically, both N.Korea and the U.S have their own embassy in Hanoi, by which they can proactively prepare for the summit to the best of their abilities.

Secondly, Vietnam is one of the few countries which have good relations with both the U.S and N.Korea. Vietnam and the U.S have experienced a bloody war in history, but since normalisation of relations in 1995, the two countries has made an impressive cooperation in many fields from economics, politics to security, education... and Vietnam has become an important partner of the US in the region. During 23 years from 1995 to 2018, the total bilateral trade volume between two countries increased by 140 times from 451 million USD to over 63 billion USD. Meanwhile, traditional relations between Vietnam and N.Korea have a longer history. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1950 and the late Korean Chairman Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of Kim Jong Un, visited Hanoi in 1958. Nowadays, Vietnam is also one of the few countries that North Korea can trust.

Thirdly, Vietnam's economic reforms could become an example for North Korea to consider, especially in the context of N.Korea leader has been showing his determination to focus on economic development. Vietnam is not only a successful innovation model under the leadership of a single political party, the Communist Party of Vietnam, similar to the role of the Labour Party in N.Korea, but also a very successful country in the transformation of relations with old enemy of U.S into a comprehensive partnership for cooperation and development. Therefore, Vietnam can share their own experiences with North Korea in ending US embargo, opening up and integrating into regional and global economies. During talks with N.Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on a visit to Pyongyang on February 12 to 14, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam Pham Binh Minh said that Vietnam was ready to share experiences with N.Korea on national construction, socio-economic development and integration into global stage based on North Korea's proposals.

The first visit of Kim Jong Un to Hanoi (most likely an official visit to Vietnam, too) would be an opportunity for him to directly witness the transformation of Vietnam's post-war economy, thereby considering in adopting N.Korea’s economic development and international integration strategies in the coming time. Mr Le Hong Hiep, a research fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said that Kim Jong Un would see Vietnam country with his own eyes in an interesting way and that could be a good opportunity to inspire him to think about the directions of N.Korean development in the future. U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also has mentioned to N.Korea leader by saying that President Donald Trump believed N.Korea country could follow the experiences of Vietnam and N.Korea should take this opportunity. "This miracle (of Vietnamese economy) may be yours", added Pompeo.

 "Reliable host country"

According to Carl Thayer, an Emeritus Professor at The University of New South Wales who has many years of researching on Southeast Asia in general and Vietnam in particular, the Trump – Kim summit taking place in Vietnam is not so surprising. This shows that all related sides, including the US, North Korea, China and South Korea, believe that Vietnam is a reliable host country. He also said the fact that Vietnam was chosen as the host country reaffirmed the correctness of Vietnam’s foreign policy of “multilateralism, diversification” and “becoming a friend and reliable partner with all nations” in international relations.

For its part, the Vietnamese government has also prepared and affirmed to coordinate well in organizing U.S-N.Korea summit in Hanoi. According to the website of the Vietnamese Government, on February 11, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to “chair and coordinate with relevant ministries and agencies to organize well the second summit of the U.S-N.Korea in Hanoi”. Pham Binh Minh, Foreign Minister of Vietnam, also paid a visit to N.Korea on February 12-14 to prepare for the summit. With the experiences of organizing the APEC Summit 2017, Vietnam is assessed as fully capable of maintaining security and safety for the U.S-N.Korea summit as so as expected official visit of Kim Jong Un to Vietnam. Besides, Vietnam could even contribute more to the summit by giving their initiatives, that may be denuclearizing issue and establishing sustainable peace on the Korean peninsula, normalizing relations between U.S and N.Korea…, for all concerned sides to refer.

The main focus of global political in the coming days.

In addition to contributing to Vietnam's image abroad, many international observers believe that Vietnam, as the host country of the second Trump - Kim summit, may enjoy more benefits. Not only putting Vietnam on the list of major host countries of international events, the U.S-N.Korea summit would also help Vietnam further improve their international position and become a potential destination for important international events in the future. From an economic perspective, through the case of Singapore, the host country of the first Trump-Kim summit, it could be asserted that the number of foreign tourists, investors coming to Vietnam will also increase relatively after the second one.

According to VOA’s journalist Ralph Jennings, Vietnam would be able to receive respect of countries which have different political systems and it is also conducive to Vietnam's reputation and multilateral foreign policy as a country suitable for organizing major international events.

Besides, Vietnam-U.S relation would continue to develop further after U.S-N.Korea summit, too. According to Rajiv Biswas, the leading Asia-Pacific Economist of market research firm HIS Markit: “The U.S-Vietnam relationship is a key to this summit. Although the summit is, of course, between the United States and North Korea, but the U.S-Vietnam relationship is turning to a new higher level”.

Finally, with the host country of Vietnam’s careful preparation and the support of other concerned sides, it can be expected that the second summit of U.S and N.Korea in Hanoi would achieve substantial results in resolving the issue of denuclearization, contributing to establishing sustainable peace on the Korean peninsula and improving N.Korea with U.S and other related countries./.

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