Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un impersonators take centre stage in Hanoi

Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump are seen during their summit in Singapore in June 2018

Coats said the North Korean leader and the rest of the country's rulers "view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival".

Trump spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Wednesday morning in advance of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next week, the White House said.

The Government Guesthouse is seen in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 19, 2019. North Korea's top negotiators have arrived in Vietnam and are meeting with the USA special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, to lay the groundwork for the conversation between Trump and Kim. Yonhap News Agency, another South Korean outlet, suggested that North Korea will be seeking a declaration of peace for the Korean War, which has technically been raging since 1950. "I'd love to be able to, but in order to do that, we have to do something that's meaningful on the other side". "It's basically the global standard on how one can go about addressing the issue of elimination of weapons of mass destruction", said an official. "I think that North Korea and Chairman Kim have some very positive things in mind and we'll soon find out".

The remarks came amid growing concern that Trump might have lowered his expectations on what he could achieve in his controversial top-down approach toward Pyongyang.

The US also continues to seek a full declaration from North Korea on its nuclear and missile programmes, though not right away.

"I don't know if North Korea has made the choice yet to denuclearise but the reason why we're engaged in this is we believe there is the possibility that North Korea will make the choice to fully denuclearise", he added.

Indeed, there's no common definition of denuclearization. We have to reduce the threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea. But the North apparently wants mutual disarmament, in which the USA would pull down its nuclear umbrella for South Korea, including halts to the deployment of nuclear-powered strategic assets to the peninsula.

"That's what we need to get for the American people".

"It is ultimately about the denuclearisation of North Korea. that is the overriding goal that President Trump is seeking to achieve with this summit".

"It's hard to tell (you) about a specific schedule with the United States", he said.

The global sanctions placed on North Korea through the U.N. Security Council are some of history's most stringent and have severely damaged Pyongyang's main industries despite evidence that nations like Russian Federation and China have helped North Korea violate the sanctions.

Japan's leading nuclear envoy, Kenji Kanasugi, also headed to Hanoi earlier in the day, according to Kyodo News.

But neither side has spelled out how and when North Korea would disarm, and US intelligence reports suggest Kim has not moved to destroy his nuclear arsenal.

United States officials have declined to speculate on what elements might be included in a joint statement at the end of the meeting.

On a chair next to him, nine-year-old To Gia Huy emerges as a spitting image of a miniature Kim Jong Un.

The relatively young man may reportedly use overland transportation from Pyongyang.

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