Reuters /Dong Dang
Vietnamese police have stepped up security at a remote rail station on the Chinese border where North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is expected to enter the country by train next week ahead of a summit with US President Donald Trump.
Vietnam is preparing for Kim to arrive by train for the Feb 27-28 summit in the capital, Hanoi, two sources with direct knowledge of security and logistics planning told Reuters on Wednesday.
Kim’s train will stop at the border station of Dong Dang where he will disembark and drive 170km to Hanoi by car, the sources said. A Reuters witness saw construction workers tidying up the Dong Dang station yesterday.
Plain-clothed police were also monitoring the area and two prevented a Reuters cameraman from filming, and asked to see his identification.
Two other security officers followed the Reuters TV crew on motorbikes, with another keeping watch from a car. Flowers pots have been laid alongside the platform, which appeared to have been recently been cleaned. An official at the local People’s Committee told Reuters provincial authorities had issued instructions for the station to be tidied up.
“We have been told to prepare for the possibility of an important event at the train station,” said the official, who did not elaborate and was not authorised to speak to media.
Two trains, usually carrying goods, pass through the station daily on the way to or from China. Although Vietnam and China have different gauge train tracks, the line to Hanoi from the border can take Chinese trains. Kim Jong-un, however, travels in his own heavy, armoured train which could pose a problem for Vietnam’s outdated, colonial-era rail network. There have already been four derailments of trains in Vietnam this year, the transport ministry said yesterday. Travel by train has been a favourite mode of transport for Kim Jong-un, and his father, Kim Jong-il, and grandfather, Kim Il-sung.
Meanwhile, a UN Security Council sanctions committee has agreed to allow North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s delegation to travel to Vietnam for a summit meeting with US President Donald Trump, diplomats said. Vietnam had asked the committee to grant an exemption to senior North Korean officials who are on a UN sanctions blacklist to allow them to attend the February 27-28 summit in Hanoi.
The sanctions provide for a global travel ban that bars governments from granting them visas to come into their countries. UN diplomats said Vietnam had requested a blanket exemption for the North Korean officials and that none of the 15 Security Council members had objected.
The committee also granted exemptions to allow the delegation to attend the US-North Korean summit in Singapore in June. Trump and Kim are due to meet in Hanoi next week to try to achieve progress on scrapping North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programme. In Washington, Trump said Kim must make a “meaningful” gesture on denuclearisation if he wants to UN sanctions to be eased.
Led by the United States, the Security Council has adopted a raft of sanctions resolutions that ban sales of North Korea imports such as coal and severely restrict oil supplies to the communist-ruled country. The United States has insisted that “maximum pressure” from sanctions must remain in place until Pyongyang has fully scrapped its nuclear and ballistic missiles programme.
But North Korea insists that easing sanctions would build trust along the way to denuclearisation – a stance that has won support from China and Russia. “Chairman Kim and I have a very good relationship. I wouldn’t be surprised to see something work out,” Trump said ahead of the summit.
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