Donald Trump hails ‘great leader’ Kim Jong-un at Hanoi summit

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un have begun their second summit, with the US president calling his North Korean counterpart “a great leader” and offering to help give his country a “tremendous future”.

The two leaders advanced towards each other and shook hands in front of a dozen US and North Korean flags, set up in the Metropole hotel in Hanoi, in a tableau almost identical to the backdrop at their first meeting, eight months ago in Singapore.

In his remarks to the press, Trump addressed criticism that the first summit had not lived up to his claims that it was a breakthrough that would lead to North Korea’s disarmament and end the nuclear threat the country posed.

“It is an honour to be with Chairman Kim. It’s an honour to be together in a country, Vietnam, where they have rolled out the red carpet and they are very honoured to have us,” the US president told reporters as the two men sat alongside each other before brief introductory talks.

“It’s great to be with you. We had a very good first summit … Some people would like it to go quicker, but I’m satisfied. You’re satisfied. We want to be happy with what we’re doing.

“I thought the first summit was a great success. And I think this one hopefully will be equal or greater than the first. And we made a lot of progress … I think the biggest progress was our relationship, which is really a good one.”

Trump continued the approach he has pursued since Singapore, to flatter Kim and hold up the prospect of great prosperity for North Korea if he agreed to disarm.

“I think your country has tremendous economic potential – unbelievable, unlimited. I think you will have a tremendous future with your country – a great leader. And I look forward to watching it happen and helping it to happen,” he said.

In his own remarks, Kim returned the compliment, saying he “truly believes this successful summit is because of [the] courageous decision by Trump [to meet]”.

“Since we last met, there has been some who misunderstood situation and some past hostilities, but we overcame that. A lot of patience is needed.”

After a few minutes of private conversation, the two leaders sat down to dinner at the hotel at a small round table with the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. Kim was accompanied by Kim Yong-chol, the vice-chairman of North Korea’s ruling party, and the foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho.

Trump said the main summit talks would take place on Thursday and predicted there would be a press conference when they ended.