File photo: Trump and Kim at their Singapore summit in June 2017. Photograph:( Reuters )
Denuclearisation wasn’t the only thing that the Trump administration was trying to achieve in Hanoi.
For Americans, Vietnam is a place associated with their country’s bloodiest war. It has entered their conscience once again due to the failed denuclearisation summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong un and President Donald Trump.
The stage was set for a second meet between the two world leaders in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi from February 27 to 28. The venue added more significance to the high stakes talks.
But the summit broke down without any official statements. North Korea had demanded the lifting of the US sanctions. Washington rejected the demands saying that sanctions would end when Pyongyang dismantles its nuclear sites.
Days after the talk, there are no clear signs of any progress in negotiations between the two camps.
But denuclearisation wasn’t the only thing that the Trump administration was trying to achieve in Hanoi. The other aim was to sell the ‘Vietnam Model of Development’ to North Korea.
Ahead of the summit, Trump had tweeted that North Korea would become an ‘economic rocket’. The US wanted to convince North Korea to divert funds from its nuclear programme to its tanking economy.
White House sought an example for the hermit nation closer to home. Vietnam, a communist country with a flourishing economy seemed to fit the bill for communist North Korea.
It was a different story that Vietnam was also an example of a small nation defeating a superpower.
But the ‘socialist-oriented market economy’ was not the sole reason for picking the South-East Asian nation. Both the US and North Korea have a shared history with Vietnam.
The two nations fought in the Vietnam War but on opposite sides. North Korea had backed anti-US and eventually victorious Vietcong forces.
The US- Vietnam relations improved significantly, years after the war. While Pyongyang still bears resentment against Washington for the Korean War (1950-53).
Post-war, Vietnam suffered from US economic sanctions.
But Vietnam’s economy continued to progress majorly due to the 1986 ‘Doi Moi’ liberalisation reforms, and partly because of the lifting of the US, UN and other international sanctions in the 1990s.
The Vietnam War ended in 1975 so what led to sanctions to be drawn for that long?
Shortly after independence, Vietnam engaged in a war with neighbouring Cambodia that ended in 1979. However, Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia continued for a decade, until Hanoi decided to officially end hostilities to get rid of international sanctions.
The onus here somewhat lies with North Korea. In Vietnam’s case, sanctions were lifted after an end to aggression. It also remains to be seen if Trump would forgo sanctions in favour of the third summit with Kim Jong Un.