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Kim Jong Un Gets 'Rock-Star' Welcome in Vietnam

North Korean leader has arrived there in advance of summit with Trump
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 26, 2019 1:03 AM CST
Updated Feb 26, 2019 6:33 AM CST
In this image made from Japan’s TBS TV video on early Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a habitual smoker, takes a pre-dawn smoke break at the train station in Nanning, China.   (TBS-JNN via AP)
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(Newser) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's armored limousine, surrounded by his phalanx of burly bodyguards, rolled into Vietnam's capital Tuesday ahead of a summit with US President Trump that's meant to deal with perhaps the world's biggest security challenge: Kim's pursuit of a nuclear program that stands on the verge of viably threatening targets around the planet. Soldiers, police, and international journalists thronged the streets outside Hanoi's Melia Hotel where Kim was set to stay, and hundreds of eager citizens stood behind barricades hoping to see the North Korean leader, the AP reports. As Vietnamese, North Korean, and US flags fluttered in a cold drizzle, dozens of cameras flashed and some citizens screamed and used their mobile phones to capture Kim's rock-star-like arrival at the hotel.

Vietnam's authoritarian leaders set up a huge security apparatus to welcome Kim, shutting long stretches of highway and locking down swaths of the bustling capital. There was a palpable, carnival-like excitement among many in Hanoi as final preparations were made for the meeting. Earlier in the morning, Kim, grinning broadly and waving, stepped off his armored train at the end of a nearly 70-hour ride that started in Pyongyang and wound through China to the Vietnamese border. Hours ahead of his border crossing, footage from Japanese TV network TBS showed Kim taking a predawn smoke break at a Chinese train station, a woman who appeared to be his sister, Kim Yo Jong, holding a crystal ashtray at the ready. Trump was flying to Hanoi from Washington and set to arrive later Tuesday; he and Kim are expected to start things off with a dinner Wednesday. More on the schedule here. (Ahead of summit, talk of a historic move.)

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