Vietnam emerges as peace mediator amid Trump-Kim summit

Last update: 12:10 | 28/02/2019

The second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un took place in Hanoi. Let’s see why the US former foe gets such a reliable role in reconciliation.

Professor Carl Thayer - Australian Defense Academy, University of New South Wales


Prof. Carl Thayer. Photo: Straits Times

Vietnam has demonstrated the ability to organize high-level events with the assurance of public security and luxurious infrastructure to meet the requirements of heads of state. During the APEC 2017 senior week, Vietnam has ensured “the highest level” security.

Vietnam and Hanoi will become the world’s center of attention until the Trump-Kim meeting ends.

Professor Katsuhito Asano - former Japanese State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary

Prof. Katsuhito Asano. Photo: El

Prof. Katsuhito Asano. Photo: El

After the revival, it turned out that Vietnam was the most important link to North Korea’s trust. In addition, good relationship with the US has been growing after the war. Therefore, Vietnam is the most suitable and secure place for the organization for both sides.

The second venue for the US-North Korea summit is a developing Vietnam and a stable security situation. It is also confirmed that Vietnam is one of the top countries in Asia.

Professor Charles Armstrong - Columbia University, US

Prof. Charles Armstrong. Photo: Arirang

Prof. Charles Armstrong. Photo: Arirang

Clearly Vietnam has the ability to secure logistical and security issues for the US-North Korea summit. Vietnam is an experienced host country for international events, typically the APEC annual meeting in 2017. 

The APEC Leaders Week in late 2017 in Danang. marked the attendance of heads of most APEC member countries, including US President Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

This expert evaluated Vietnam as an “interesting place” to hold the second Trump-Kim meeting as Hanoi has a good relationship with both Washington and Pyongyang, which can be seen as a peace mediator.

Professor Nam Sung-wook, Korea University

“Vietnam is the best place to host the summit”. “Vietnam is a symbolic country about the role of peace mediation, he said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: The New York Times

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: The New York Times

Vietnam presents US summit negotiators with a case study of how a former communist foe can turn into a trade and security partner.

In a speech to Hanoi’s business community, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said President Trump believed Pyongyang could “replicate” Vietnam’s path. He noted that the leaders of Vietnam realized their country could reform, it could open up and build relationships without threatening the country’s sovereignty, its independence, and its form of government.

Anou Martirosyan - French business advisor 

Anou Martirosyan. Photo: Anou

Anou Martirosyan. Photo: Anou

There are historical obvious reasons for it. First of all, Kim will see by his eyes consequences of Vietnam’s “Doi Moi” or renovation which the US expects North Korea to refer to.

Secondly, Vietnam set up bilateral relations with North Korea so early, since 1950 (after with China and Soviet Union). Pyongyang helped Vietnam during the Vietnam War while Hanoi has extended its support to North Korean people, mostly by rice. This collaboration was decisive but it was when Vietnamese had a common enemy. 

There is also the reason that Hanoi is a beautiful neutral place for that meeting, after several months here I feel that the city change and evolve very fast. At the same time and in a very interesting way, it keeps tradition and unique identity. I prefer the food in the countryside but there are many good places you can discover every day! 

Radek Jedlicka - Analyst, Czech Republic

Radek Jedlicka. Photo: Linh Pham

Radek Jedlicka. Photo: Linh Pham

I believe that there is no better place to host the summit. After US-Vietnam troubled history, Vietnam shows look-in-the-future approach and as a mediator of the talks. It becomes symbol of peace and prosperity driven by good relations with the West and other communist superpower. 

Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in the region and it is due to unique mix of politics and economic model. This model is surely inspiration for other countries in the region, not just North Korea.

Le Hong Hiep, a research fellow at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore

Dr. Le Hong Hiep. Photo: ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute

Dr. Le Hong Hiep. Photo: ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute

Le Hong Hiep, meanwhile, talked about the possible benefit that Vietnam might gain from hosting the summit. 

He said that by helping Washington achieve its Korea policy goals, this could help fulfill Vietnam’s desire for closer relations with the US, both to encourage trade and investment and serve as a strategic counterweight to China.

“The country may attract significant international attention, especially from tourists and investors, through the intense media coverage of the summit,” he said. 

“It can also be a chance for Vietnam to showcase its active foreign policy, through which Vietnam would like to contribute more to the international community, as well as to regional peace and security,” Hiep emphasized.


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