Kim Jong-un begins long train ride to Trump summit

The leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un left Pyongyang on Saturday for Vietnam, ahead of his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, Yonhap News Agency reported citing Russian media Tass.

Trump and Kim will meet in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, eight months after their historic summit in Singapore in June - the first between a sitting USA president and a North Korean leader - at which they pledged to work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Earlier in the day, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry said Kim would make an official goodwill visit to the country, but did not mention the dates and itinerary.

Kim and Trump are scheduled to meet for their much-awaited second summit on Wednesday and Thursday in Hanoi.

Several sources told the AFP news agency that Kim was expected to arrive in Vietnam by train, stopping at the Dong Dang train station near the China border, then driving to Hanoi.

Another option for Kim would be to take the train to Beijing and catch a plane to the Vietnamese capital.

It came after Vietnam announced the unprecedented move of closing that 170km stretch of road on Tuesday between 6am and 2pm - suggesting Kim could travel on the road between those hours.

The Trump administration has pressed North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, which threatens the United States, before it can expect any concessions.

Last year, North Korea suspended its nuclear and long-range missile tests and unilaterally dismantled its nuclear testing ground and parts of a rocket launch facility without the presence of outside experts, but none of those steps were seen as meaningful cutbacks to the North's weapons capability.

It was unclear if Kim was on the train.

Security was tight before the train's arrival in China, with police cordoning off the riverfront about 100 metres from the bridge with tape and metal barriers. His grandfather and state founder, Kim Il Sung, last visited in 1964.

The summit in Hanoi comes amid some questions about prospects for progress.

Trump will meet with Kim one-on-one in Hanoi for a meal and have lengthier negotiations over North Korea's nuclear ambitions, where they will be joined by aides, USA officials said. Officials say the colonial-era Government Guest House in central Hanoi is expected to be the venue for the meeting, with the nearby Metropole Hotel as a backup.

  • Jon Douglas