MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
On the other side of the world, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are set to begin talks this hour in Hanoi, Vietnam. The leaders exchanged compliments after a dinner together Wednesday night. Now they will get down to details exploring what steps North Korea might be willing to take to denuclearize and what the United States might be willing to offer in return. In Hanoi following all of it for us is NPR's Anthony Kuhn. Hi there, Anthony.
ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: Hey, Mary Louise.
KELLY: Hey. So obviously a lot of anticipation for this moment. Is - what exactly is happening at this hour?
KUHN: The talks are underway. They got started around 9 a.m. this morning. The visuals are very much like the first Singapore summit in June. The two leaders were seated around a table in front of a backdrop of flags. President Trump stated that he is not in a rush for results, as he said before, and that he is primarily just grateful that North Korea has not tested any nuclear weapons or missiles since late 2017. Now, of course that leads people to say, what about full denuclearization? Well, he's clearly not the only one involved in the U.S. government.
KUHN: That also does not mean he doesn't want full denuclearization. He - Trump was upbeat about the results of a dinner and some initial talks, what was called a social dinner last night at the Metropole hotel here in Hanoi. And his message there was, if you, North Korea, denuclearize, you can prosper just the way Vietnam, the host country, is doing.
For his part, Kim Jong Un personally committed himself to making the talks a success. He, you know, said that both sides had shown a lot of patience and overcome mistrust to get to this second summit. And, you know, asked about the outcome, he said he's not pessimistic.
KELLY: OK. I can hear a little bit of noise behind you. Are you in a noisy press filing center with reporters from all over the world there? Or where are you?
KUHN: You got it. That's exactly where I am...
KELLY: (Laughter) I've been in...
KUHN: ...Watching the results on the screen, yep.
KELLY: ...Many such places. It sounds familiar. Who exactly is in the meeting today? Obviously Trump, Kim Jong Un - do they have aides in this meeting, or is this a pure one-on-one?
KUHN: Well, there are both formats. As in Singapore, there is going to be just two men in a room with their translators to begin with, and it's going to be very hard to know what's said or what is decided and to what extent things are decided beforehand. And then they're going to break out for larger talks with their aides. So that's the format.
KELLY: OK. And you touched on this a little bit, but just in terms of expectations and what each side is signaling - we have a sense that the nuclear issue will be on the table, that sanctions will be on the table, that possibly some kind of declaration of the end of the Korean War will be on the table. But what is either side signaling in terms of how much of a breakthrough we might expect to come out of these talks?
KUHN: Well, you know, Kim Jong Un said in his New Year's address basically that he has frozen his country's nuclear and missile programs. And, you know, by all indications, the two sides will work for a, you know, further dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear facilities and verification of that process by international inspectors.
Now, the U.S. had originally wanted a declaration of all of North Korea's nuclear assets and preferably for North Korea to just ship those weapons out of the country. And they could not get that. And as you remember, you know, since the summit, media have all reported (inaudible) denuclearization process was stalled and that nothing North Korea was offering was of any significance.
Well, it turns out that the U.S. will have to settle for what was offered and trying to lock that in. There have been a lot of warnings of pitfalls, of a bad deal, that the U.S. could give away too much. The U.S. administration seems to have taken these onboard and wants the negotiations to process - to proceed in big steps.
KELLY: And just briefly in the 30 seconds we have left, Anthony, there were also a lot of reports that this end of war declaration might be on the table from the U.S. side. Do we know anything more about whether it will be, whether it is?
KUHN: Well, that is clearly what North Korea wants. That's the security guarantee it seeks in order to denuclearize. And the U.S. envoy on North Korea, Steve Biegun, has publicly stated that President Trump wants this war over. But a final declaration will have to have all the combatants in it. And that includes China, and they're not at this meeting.
KELLY: All right, thank you, Anthony.
KUHN: You're welcome.
KELLY: That's NPR's Anthony Kuhn reporting live from the summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.