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Trump says second summit with Kim to be in Vietnam

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US President says he will meet North Korean leader on Feb 27 and 28; claims 'tremendous progress' in dealings with communist state

WASHINGTON US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would hold his second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on Feb 27 and 28, while giving himself credit for averting a major war on the Korean peninsula.

In his State of the Union address to Congress, Mr Trump said much work remained to be done but cited the halt in North Korea's nuclear testing and missile launches in 15 months as proof of progress.

"If I had not been elected president of the US, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea," Mr Trump said in his address.

He had raised fears of war in 2017 when he threatened to rain "fire and fury like the world has never seen" on North Korea because of the threat its nuclear weapons and missiles posed.

Mr Trump met Mr Kim on June 12 in Singapore in the first summit between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader. His relationship with Mr Kim, he said, "is a good one".

Vietnam, which has good relations with both the US and North Korea, had been touted as most likely to host the meeting.

It has been described as a model of economic and political reform for impoverished North Korea to follow, but it would require major changes to the North's personality cult and "juche" ideology of self-sufficiency. Hanoi and Danang have been considered as possible venues for the summit.

A source at Danang airport said four US military V-22 Osprey aircraft flew from Japan's Okinawa island and landed there on Tuesday evening. They left Danang after a few hours, the source said.

Last week, US logistics officials visited the city, a major base for US and South Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War, a source told Reuters.

US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun was due to hold talks in Pyongyang this week to map out what he called "a set of concrete deliverables" for the second meeting.

The Singapore summit yielded a vague commitment from Mr Kim to work towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. In the US view, North Korea has yet to take concrete steps to give up its nuclear weapons.

It has complained the US has done little to reciprocate for its freezing of nuclear and missile testing and dismantling of some nuclear facilities. North Korea has repeatedly urged a lifting of punishing US-led sanctions, a formal end to the Korean war and security guarantees.

While Mr Trump has hailed "tremendous progress" in his dealings with North Korea, a confidential report by UN sanctions monitors seen by Reuters this week cast further doubt on the North's intentions. It said the nuclear and ballistic missile programmes remained intact and North Korea was working to make sure those capabilities could not be destroyed by any military strikes. - REUTERS