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Kim Jong-un will cut his Vietnam visit short

Mar 02,2019
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un plans to head back home from Hanoi on Saturday morning, earlier than initially scheduled, a diplomatic source said, amid speculation about whether the decision is linked to his unsuccessful summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Kim plans to leave for a border train station in Dong Dang at around 10 a.m. Saturday, wrapping up his two-day official visit to Vietnam, according to the source.

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry had earlier said Kim would head back to Pyongyang on Saturday afternoon.

It has not been confirmed yet whether Kim’s return schedule change is related to the outcome of the summit with Trump earlier this week.

They finished the session abruptly around noon Thursday without issuing a joint statement.

Kim has stayed at his luxury hotel without issuing any public message in person since the summit.

Kim is scheduled to hold summit talks with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong on Friday afternoon after inspecting an honor guard in front of the presidential palace, the source said.

He will also meet with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Another source said Kim may visit the Vietnam-DPRK Friendship Kindergarten in Hanoi earlier in the day. DPRK is an acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Before departure on Saturday morning, Kim plans a brief visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which commemorates the former leader of the Southeast Asian nation.

Kim is the first North Korean leader in 55 years to make a visit to Vietnam. His late grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who founded North Korea, traveled to the country in 1958 and 1964.

Kim is expected to focus on strengthening relations between Pyongyang and Hanoi during the rest of his stay. Vietnam is said to be a potential model for the impoverished communist nation that’s in a desperate but troubled pursuit of economic growth.

He’s apparently taking a similar trip back to his 66-hour journey to Hanoi. There’s a possibility that he will stop in Beijing for talks with President Xi Jinping.

Yonhap