Kim Jong Un leaves Pyongyang for Hanoi to meet Trump

Shop owner Truong Thanh Duc displays summit-themed T-shirts in Hanoi

Mr. Kim made the rare personal comments to Mike Pompeo during a visit to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, in April past year to lay the groundwork for the historic first summit between the North's leader and U.S. President Donald Trump in June in Singapore, former CIA official Andrew Kim said, South Korea's Yonhap news agency and the Wall Street Journal reported.

Kim has previously travelled in an armoured train to Beijing and, if he is on board, may stop in the Chinese capital on what could be an epic journey to Vietnam, meeting President Xi Jinping prior to his second face-to-face with the U.S. president.

Kim left the North Korean capital of Pyongyang at around 5pm (0800 GMT) in an armoured train, Tass said, citing a North Korean diplomatic source.

Kim Jong-un will also pay an official visit to Vietnam in the coming days at the invitation of Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong.

The Trump-Kim meeting is slated for Wednesday and Thursday in Hanoi. A train journey to Hanoi could take two days or more, and include a lengthy auto trip from the Vietnam-China border. His late father, Kim Jong Il, travelled all the way to Moscow by train in 2001.

It came after Vietnam announced the unprecedented move of closing that 170km stretch of road on Tuesday between 6am and 2pm - suggesting Kim could travel on the road between those hours.

First, Trump will meet the soon-to-be enthroned 126th emperor of the world's oldest monarchy, Crown Prince Naruhito, who is set to ascend the throne on the first week of May.

Kim would then have another, long train ride south to Vietnam. Vietnamese police have stepped up security around the border station ahead of Kim's arrival. His grandfather and state founder, Kim Il Sung, last visited in 1964. A landmark first summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore in June produced a promise by Kim to work toward the complete denuclearisation of the divided Korean Peninsula.

"But by choosing to travel by their own special train over a Chinese aircraft, Pyongyang may be signalling its willingness to be independent".

The Trump administration has pressed North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, which threatens the United States, before it can expect any concessions.

The preferred location for the summit is the Government Guesthouse, a colonial-era building in central Hanoi, three sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

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