Jackie Chan’s Trip To Vietnam Cancelled Over China Sea Row

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 12, 2019, Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan attends a press conference promoting the release of his new solo album “I Am Me” in Taipei.


Martial-arts film star Jackie Chan’s planned visit to Vietnam for a charity has been cancelled following an online backlash related to Beijing’s expansive claims in the disputed South China Sea.

The Hong Kong-born actor was set to visit Hanoi on November 10 to support Operation Smile, a charity that gives free surgery to children with facial disfigurements.

But the plans were scrapped after thousands of angry Facebook users flooded the charity’s official page when his visit was announced last week.

Some of their comments claimed Chan had spoken in support of China’s so-called nine-dash line — its historic justification for its territorial claims in the resource-rich sea.

However, Chan has not explicitly expressed public support for the controversial maritime assertion.

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Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei all have competing claims in the waterway that overlap with China’s — long a source of tension in the region.

Issuing a mea culpa Friday for failing “to predict the reaction” of the Vietnamese public, the charity asserted that their work is “non-political”.

“We are very sorry… Operation Smile will not organise any activities with (Chan’s) involvement” in Vietnam, they said.

Vietnam is one of Beijing’s most vocal critics over the flashpoint South China Sea issue.

The foreign ministry on Thursday repeated its usual proclamation on the sea, citing the country’s “full legal basis and true evidence to affirm Vietnam’s sovereignty”, deputy spokesperson Ngo Toan Thang told AFP.

Chan has in the past been accused of siding with China over Hong Kong’s democracy protests after calling the unrest in his hometown “sad and depressing”.

The comment sparked ire in Hong Kong but was warmly received by many in China where he has a massive fan base.

Earlier this month Hanoi pulled the DreamWorks film “Abominable” from theatres over a scene featuring a map showing the nine-dash line.

Beijing claims the majority of the South China Sea through the vague delineation, which is based on maps from the 1940s as the then-Republic of China snapped up islands from Japanese control.

“Abominable” is not being shown in Malaysia either after its distributor refused to cut the offending scene, while the Philippines also filed complaints.

The US this week accused Beijing of intimidating smaller countries in the South China Sea, a key global fishing route.

China has built military installations and manmade islands in the area, and for several weeks earlier this year sent a survey ship to waters claimed by Vietnam.

All 39 Victims Found Dead In UK Truck Confirmed As Vietnamese

Police officers drive away a lorry, with black plastic visible at the rear, in which 39 dead bodies were discovered sparking a murder investigation at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, east of London, on October 23, 2019.

All 39 bodies found in a refrigerated truck outside London last month have now been identified as citizens of Vietnam, officials said on Thursday.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security said it was now working to repatriate the 31 men and eight women discovered dead in the back of the truck on October 23.

The tragic case has exposed the deadly risks of migration to Europe, with Vietnamese nationals among the many who try to reach the continent illicitly on dangerous journeys.

Nguyen Dinh Gia, the father of Nguyen Dinh Luong, told AFP on Thursday that officials had called him the previous day to confirm his son was among the victims.

“Our hope now is the body of my son will be brought home soon,” he said.

In a letter to the victims’ families obtained by AFP, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the tragedy had caused them and Vietnamese people around the world “endless pain”.

He vowed his government would work with British officials “to soon bring the victims back to the homeland, their families and their loved ones”.

Essex Police, the local force investigating the gruesome discovery, confirmed a coroner had now formally identified all the victims and their families had been informed.

“This is an important step in the investigation and enables us to work with our Vietnamese police colleagues to support the families of those victims,” Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith said.

The bodies were found in the early hours of October 23 on a truck that had just entered Britain on a ferry from Belgium.

Essex Police had initially said the victims were believed to be Chinese nationals, until several Vietnamese families came forward to say they feared their relatives were on board.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security said they hailed from six provinces — Hai Phong, Hai Duong, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Thua Thien Hue — which are common feeders for illegal emigration.

Several families of the suspected victims told AFP their relatives were seeking better lives abroad, and they were now worried about how to repay thousands of dollars of debt their children took on for the ill-fated trip.

Vietnamese authorities have detained 11 people in connection with the deaths for helping people travel abroad with the intention of staying overseas illegally. None have been formally charged.

Meanwhile police in Britain have charged the 25-year-old driver of the refrigerated lorry, who comes from Northern Ireland, with manslaughter, money laundering and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

They are also in the process of extraditing another suspect from Ireland and searching for others potentially involved.


Vietnam Arrests Eight Over UK Truck Deaths

Police officers drive away a lorry, with black plastic visible at the rear, in which 39 dead bodies were discovered sparking a murder investigation at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, east of London, on October 23, 2019.


Vietnam has arrested eight more people in connection with the deaths of 39 people found in a truck in Britain who are believed to be Vietnamese, police said Monday.

Eight women and 31 men were found in a refrigerated lorry in an industrial park in Essex, east of London last month, in a case that has shaken Britain and exposed the deadly risks of illegal migration from Vietnam into Europe.

British police initially said the victims were Chinese, but several Vietnamese families came forward to say they feared their relatives were on the truck. None has been officially identified so far.

Many of the suspected victims came from just two provinces in central Vietnam, including Nghe An province where eight people have been arrested in connection with the deaths, police said Monday, according to media reports.

“This was a very painful incident, a humanitarian accident,” said Nguyen Huu Cau, director of Nghe An police, confirming the arrests in video comments carried by the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper.

The official Vietnam News Agency also confirmed the arrests, saying the suspects were detained for “organising (and) brokering people to go abroad and stay abroad illegally”.

Two other suspects were arrested in Ha Tinh province last week in relation to the Essex incident.

Brokers are rife in remote towns in central Vietnam, a hotspot for illegal migration into Europe.

DNA samples and fingerprints have been taken from several families in the area as officials in Vietnam and Britain work to identify the victims.

Families of the missing have told AFP that their children had gone overseas to find work, hoping to earn money to send back home.

Britain is a popular destination for Vietnamese illegal migrants, many of whom end up working in cannabis farms or nail bars.

Those without enough money to afford so-called “VIP packages” to fly to European countries before embarking on treacherous routes into Britain — usually in trucks — often travel westward via Russia or China.

The routes can be dangerous, with some people exploited for labour in factories or brothels along the way, NGOs and experts say.

The 25-year-old Northern Irish driver of the refrigerated truck found on October 23 has been charged with manslaughter, money laundering and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

In Dublin, another Northern Irishman is facing extradition proceedings to bring him to Britain in connection with the incident.

British police have also said they want to speak to Ronan and Christopher Hughes, two brothers in the haulage business from Northern Ireland.

Three other people have been arrested and released on police bail.


Nigeria, Vietnam Sign Visa Waiver Deal For Diplomatic, Official Passport Holders

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Vuong Dinh Hue, watch as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, and Vietnamese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Nguyen Minh Vu, sign some documents at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on October 30, 2019. Photo: Twitter- @ProfOsinbajo



Nigeria and Vietnam have signed agreement on waiver of visa requirements for holders of valid diplomatic and official passports in both countries.

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mr Vuong Dinh Hue, witnessed the signing and exchange of Memorandum of Understanding during a meeting on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, signed on behalf of Nigeria while his counterpart, the Vietnamese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Nguyen Minh Vu, signed on behalf of his government.

Both countries also agreed on the establishment of a joint commission on trade and strengthening bilateral ties, as well as to increase cooperation in the areas of agriculture, tourism, defence and security, among others.

They also agreed to explore other areas that would further strengthen existing platforms in order to boost economic ties between the two countries.

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Professor Osinbajo, who received the Vietnamese delegation, noted that Nigeria and Vietnam established diplomatic relations in 1976.

He added that the impressive development strides recorded by Vietnam over the years have been a source of encouragement to Nigeria.

“We’ve been very keen watchers of your development, especially in the areas of agriculture, trade, services, industry, and I must say the impressive growth of Vietnam has always been a source of encouragement here for us in Nigeria,” the Vice President was quoted as saying in a statement by his spokesperson, Mr Laolu Akande.

He added, “We have also been active in several areas, especially in agriculture, oil and gas, innovation and technology.

“I think there is a lot of room for cooperation and collaboration, especially with respect to economy, commerce, but also in the areas of defence and security.

“Also, in areas of energy and mining, we believe there is a lot we can learn from each other and share. We have a very lucrative mining sector and considerable solid minerals and other mineral sources that we think might be of interest to Vietnam.”


Professor Osinbajo, therefore, called on Vietnam to be more open to Nigerian exports and businesses, stressing that the country’s business climate has improved over the years.

According to him, the government has worked very hard on improving the business environment in Nigeria to make it friendlier for business and tourism.

He recalled that the World Bank named Nigeria one of the top 10 most improved economies in 2020 Doing Business Index.

“I’m sure that with the signing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement, and some of what we are doing, especially in financial services, we are also looking at expanding our scope, especially in Africa. We will be looking at cooperation with the ASEAN countries as well.

“We are grateful for the offer from His Excellency (Deputy PM) about the possible links Vietnam could help us establish with the ASEAN countries. We are also ready to collaborate in whatever way we can to facilitate the relationships between Vietnam, ECOWAS and the African Union (AU),” the Vice President told his visitors.

He gave assurance that the Nigerian government would look into the issues raised by Vietnam in terms of its rice imports into the country and other issues and ‘respond appropriately.’

Earlier in his remarks, the Deputy PM who is visiting Nigeria for the first time noted that that country is one of Vietnam’s largest trading partners and would welcome more investment and economic collaboration between both countries.

“Vietnam appreciates the tremendous successes that the government and the people of Nigeria have recorded in recent times in the construction and development process of the country, which has put Nigeria in a leading position in the West African region, and on the continent.

“I believe we should work faster and together to compensate for the long time passed that our two countries missed. A multifaceted cooperation shall be intensified with time,” Hue said.

A friendly football match between Nigeria and Vietnam to strengthen bilateral ties was also proposed by the Vietnamese Deputy PM, which the Vice President warmly welcomed.

Bored And Broke, Vietnam Migrants Risk Lives For Riches In Europe


Young, aspirational and poor Vietnamese are risking their lives to travel to Europe, taking on large debts to join well-worn trafficking routes in the hope of a better future thousands of miles from their rural homes.

The dangers of illegal crossings into Europe were laid bare this week when 31 men and eight women were found dead in a refrigerated truck in Britain.

British police initially said the victims were Chinese, but it is now feared most were from Vietnam.

Many Vietnamese migrants come from just a handful of central provinces, where smugglers prey on disaffected youth lured by the prospect of overseas work.

Bored by village life and fed up with a lack of opportunity, the allure of overseas riches is enough to tempt many to embark on the risky trips.

Many belong to Vietnam’s booming, social-media obsessed population of under 30s, often following relatives or friends to the UK, France and Germany — Facebook posts from abroad and money sent home are often proof enough that the journey is worth it.

Greased by smuggling networks with links in remote Vietnamese towns and throughout eastern Europe, migrants can pay up to $40,000 for a ticket out of poverty, borrowing from relatives or taking huge loans.

“Smugglers are really saying that the UK is the ‘El Dorado’,” Paris-based migration expert Nadia Sebtaoui told AFP.

They are often promised princely salaries of up to £3,000 pounds ($3,800) a month, around three times the annual income in Vietnam’s poorest provinces.

But the reality is often far different.

Some end up owing thousands of dollars to smugglers and money lenders who front cash for the treacherous journeys. Saddled by huge debts, many face the risk of exploitation along the way.

“They really have a lack of awareness on the reality of working in Europe,” said Sebtaoui, adding that many take under-the-table jobs as manicurists or cannabis farmers, or even sex workers.

A town transformed 

Just a few provinces in central Vietnam — Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh — supply most illegal migrants, according to a report by Anti-Slavery International, ECPAT UK and Pacific Links Foundation.

The region has been largely overlooked by Vietnam’s breakneck economic growth of the past decade, and for most young people the only jobs on offer are in factories, construction or on the fields.

Meanwhile, migrant success stories ricochet across many small towns, where remittances have transformed the homes and aspirations of many.

“We live on money sent from our people abroad,” said the uncle of Nguyen Dinh Tu, a 27-year-old man feared to have died in the ill-fated truck.

In his village Phu Xuan, once a poor farming community in Nghe An province, signs of that wealth abound.

Newly-renovated brick homes have replaced shacks. Bicycles have been upgraded for motorbikes and cars, and a trendy bubble tea shop recently opened along the main road.

“The money sent from our people abroad has changed the face of this village. That’s why young ones just leave,” said Tu’s uncle, sitting in the new home his missing nephew helped to finance at a cost of nearly $13,000.

That’s a huge sum in Nghe An province, where the average annual per capita income is around $1,200, well below the national average of about $2,400.

 ‘I’ll be lucky’ 

In this part of Vietnam, it’s not hard to find someone who can help you get to Europe — for a price.

Russia is easy enough to get to — a tourist visa or fake passport often does the trick — and then criminal networks dotted across eastern Europe help migrants along, often for additional fees.

Vietnamese communities took root in eastern Europe after the Vietnam War, some moving over as part of a Soviet labour scheme, others as war refugees.

Most migrants continue their westwards journey overland, with those headed for the UK waiting in makeshift camps in northern France for truck to take them across.

For that they pay smugglers for a “VIP transfer” — a guaranteed spot on a truck billed as the more comfortable route, said Sebtaoui, who has worked with Vietnamese migrants in France.

The migrants on the ill-fated truck found this week might have paid thousands of dollars for a spot in the refrigerated trailer.

Others try their luck by squeezing themselves in the arches above truck wheels, an extremely risky passage.

But tragedy is often not a deterrent. Even if many of the 39 dead are confirmed to be Vietnamese, it might not be enough to stop future migrants from taking the same journey.

“If someone’s really desperate and if their life seems hopeless… they may still think ‘I’ll be lucky,'” said Michael Brosowski, founder of Vietnam-based anti-trafficking NGO Blue Dragon.

Seven Dead Tigers Seized By Police In Vietnam

In this photo taken on July 23, 2019, seven tiger carcasses seized by police are pictured in Hanoi. A haul of frozen tiger carcasses found in a Hanoi parking lot has led to arrest of a key wildlife trafficking suspect, Vietnamese state media said July 26, as the country tries to tackle a well-worn smuggling route from Laos. PHOTO: Nam GIANG / AFP


A haul of frozen tiger carcasses found in a car in Hanoi has led to the arrest of a key wildlife trafficking suspect, Vietnamese state media said Friday, as the country tries to tackle a well-worn smuggling route from Laos.

Nguyen Huu Hue, who is believed to have smuggled animals in from neighbouring Laos for years, was arrested Thursday with two other people after seven dead tigers were discovered in their vehicle at a parking lot, according to Cong An Nhan Dan newspaper.

“Hue set up a company… which sells building material as a cover for the illegal trading of tigers and wildlife,” Cong An Nhan Dan, the official mouthpiece of the Ministry of Public Security, reported.

All seven tigers appeared to be cubs, according to photos of the seizure.

It was not immediately clear if the dead tigers had come from the wild or from the many illegal tiger farms in Laos, which supply much of Asia’s demand for tiger meat and parts.

Police have previously busted several other members of the same wildlife trafficking ring, which has been running for several years from a central province which shares a border with Laos.

Vietnam is both a consumption hub and popular smuggling route for illegal wildlife — from tigers to elephant tusks, pangolins, and rhino horn.

Some of it is destined for domestic consumption in Vietnam, while the rest is smuggled on to China.

Tiger parts are used for traditional medicine or jewelry in Vietnam, where the once-large population of the endangered cats has dwindled dramatically.

Their bones are commonly boiled down and mixed with rice wine to make an elixir believed to treat arthritis and promote strength.

The smugglers’ arrest in Hanoi follows a record seizure in Singapore this week of nearly nine tonnes of ivory and a huge stash of pangolin scales destined for Vietnam.

Hanoi has long vowed to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade, though conservationists say the black market persists thanks to weak law enforcement.


Photos: Obasanjo Swaps Trad For Suits


Former President Olusegun Obasanjo got tongues wagging all over social media recently when he swapped his usual traditional attire for a suit. 

The former military leader in a recent visit to Vietnam, joined Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, former Ethiopian prime minister, and other dignitaries to showcase the works of Chuong, a highly acclaimed Asian tailor, based in Hanoi, the Vietnam capital.

Obasanjo could be seen in a couple of photos, clad in suits, photos which made the rounds all over social media stirring some buzz over which fits him best, the native or corporate atire.

The Ex-President alongside Boshe and other dignitaries visited Chuong’s showroom of Chuong, to check out his fabulous collection.

Only recently, Chuong was awarded “Tailoring Artist” by the state council of Vietnam for his ingenuity.

Below are some photos obtained from The Cable, in which Chief Obasanjo was all smiles as he rocked the suits by Chuong.

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N. Korea’s Kim Pays Tribute To Former Vietnam’s Revolutionary Leader

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un waves before boarding his train at the Dong Dang railway station in Lang Son on March 2, 2019. / AFP


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un paid tribute to Vietnam’s late revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh on Saturday before starting his long journey home through China, after his Hanoi summit with US President Donald Trump ended without a nuclear deal.

Kim boarded his olive green armoured train at the Dong Dang border station in Vietnam before it rolled northward toward China en route to Pyongyang, kicking off a marathon 4,000-kilometre (2,500-mile) journey expected to take two and a half days.

Earlier Kim made a highly unusual stop at the stark concrete monument where the body of Vietnam’s independence hero is on display.

On historic North Korean anniversaries Kim regularly pays tribute — with the “humblest reverence”, according to the official KCNA news agency — to his predecessors, his father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung, at the sprawling memorial palace on the outskirts of Pyongyang where their preserved remains lie in state.

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But he is not known to have previously done anything similar for a foreign leader.

The North Korean adjusted the ribbons on a large wreath emblazoned with his name and the message “Cherishing the memory of President Ho Chi Minh” before bowing his head for no less than 48 seconds.

Kim has visited China, the North’s key diplomatic protector and main provider of trade and aid, four times but there have been no reports in either country’s state media of him going to Mao Zedong’s mausoleum in Beijing.

But Kim’s grandfather was a close friend of Ho Chi Minh and supplied him with fighter pilots and psychological warfare specialists during his war against the US-backed regime in South Vietnam.

Pictures of the two together are displayed on the noticeboard outside the Vietnamese embassy in Pyongyang.

– Single-string guitar –
Kim’s trip to Vietnam was the first by a North Korean leader since 1964, when Kim Il Sung also travelled by rail for his journey to the southeast Asian nation.

Kim boarded his own train Saturday and headed towards China, though his route was not known and it was not clear whether he would be stopping to meet President Xi Jinping along the journey.

A smiling Kim waved to crowds at the station and clasped his hands in the air as he was seen off by white-uniformed soldiers and Vietnamese officials.

“I really admire Chairman Kim Jong Un and I see him as a friendly person,” said local resident Nguyen Thuy Chi at the station.

On Friday Kim met Vietnam’s top leaders and reportedly tried his hand at playing a dan bau — a traditional single-string guitar.

Pictures in the Vietnamese press showed the grinning leader with the instrument as a crowd of Vietnamese guests — including President Nguyen Phu Trong — cheered him on.

Kim and Trump’s much-hyped second summit finished abruptly with a signing ceremony scrapped after the pair failed to reach an agreement on walking back North Korea’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

Both sides said they were open to further talks, though a third summit has not been scheduled.

Kim Commences Vietnam Visit After Trump’s Nuclear Summit

A motorcade transporting North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un makes its way to the Presidential Palace in Hanoi on March 1, 2019, a day after the second US-North Korea summit. Nhac NGUYEN / AFP


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un kicked off an official visit to Vietnam Friday, three days after arriving in the country for a nuclear summit with US President Donald Trump that ended deadlocked.

Kim put aside the troubled negotiations for the pageantry of a formal diplomatic occasion in Hanoi, where — accompanied by his sister and close aide Kim Yo Jong — he was received by Vietnam President and Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong.

The smiling leader walked before rows of children waving Vietnamese and North Korean flags outside the mustard-yellow colonial-era Presidential Palace, before inspecting an honour guard.

The long-isolated North is increasingly seeking to portray itself as a country like any other, and Vietnam is Kim’s fourth foreign destination in less than 12 months, after not leaving his borders for more than six years following his inheritance of power.

He has travelled to China four times for meetings with President Xi Jinping, walked across the border with South Korea for a summit with President Moon Jae-in, and went to Singapore for his first summit with Trump.

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But for protocol purposes Kim’s trips do not rank as state visits, as he is not North Korea’s head of state — his grandfather Kim Il Sung retains the title of Eternal President even though he died in 1994.

Instead Kim is officially chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea and chairman of the State Affairs Commission, although he is most commonly referred to as the “Supreme Leader”.

The North’s state KCNA news agency described it as an “official goodwill visit” to Vietnam.

Curious onlookers lined the streets Friday to catch a glimpse of Kim — the first North Korean leader to visit Vietnam since his grandfather in 1964.

But not all were impressed.

“The summit failed. I don’t know how much Vietnam has spent on this, but it must be a lot,” Hanoi resident Tu Mai, 40, told AFP.

Train journey 

The North Korean leader later met the head of the southeast Asian country’s rubber-stamp parliament, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, telling her that the warm relationship between their nations was established by Kim Il Sung and Vietnam’s revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh.

“I was deeply moved by the fervent welcome from the Vietnamese people and felt our 70-year history of friendly ties,” Kim said.

During the Cold War, Vietnam and North Korea were both members of the Communist bloc, with Pyongyang sending Hanoi pilots and psychological warfare specialists to help it in the Vietnam War.

Hanoi has since embraced market economics and been rewarded with rapid growth, while it now counts the US as an ally.

Kim is expected to lay wreaths at the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and war martyrs monument on Saturday ahead of his planned departure by train for the marathon return journey home.

Kim undertook a 4,000-kilometre (2,500-mile) two-and-a-half day rail journey through China to Vietnam to attend the summit.

The streets of Hanoi have been lined with heavy security along with military equipment and armoured vehicles for the summit, and some said it was exhausting work.

“It’s tiring, we’ve been on high alert for two weeks now,” a police officer told AFP.

“I really wish it would end soon as it really disrupts people’s lives.”


Vietnam ‘Willing’ To Host Trump-Kim Summit – Report

U.S. Claims China Making Things 'Much More Difficult' With North Korea
North Korea leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump before their departures after meeting at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. AFP


Vietnam’s premier has said his country is willing to host a much-anticipated second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

One of North Korea’s top generals Kim Yong Chol is expected to meet with Trump at the White House on Friday to hash out details of a second meeting with Kim, including a potential venue.

The second round of talks follow a historic summit in Singapore last year and are aimed at denuclearisation and ending decades of enmity between the two nations.

Vietnam has cropped up in the swirl of rumours and conjecture over a possible site for the meeting, with the capital Hanoi or the coastal city of Danang seemingly the most likely bases for the summit.

On Thursday Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said he would be open to hosting it.

“We don’t know the final decision. However, if it happens here we will do our best to facilitate the meeting,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

“Vietnam has cooperated well with the US in developing economic and trade relations, as well as in other areas.”

A Vietnamese government source who wished to remain anonymous told AFP “logistical preparations” were under way for a Trump-Kim summit although “no official decision” had been made.

“There is lots of work to be done, not only for Danang but some other locations for the event. The Vietnamese side is ready to host… but it is not up to us to decide.”

Like several other Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam maintains diplomatic ties with both communist-run Pyongyang and Washington and is keen to host major global events as it tries to project a more confident global profile.

Communist Vietnam hosted a major Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in the central city of Danang in 2017 attended by global leaders, including Trump.

Hanoi also welcomed North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in November for a visit reportedly aimed at sharing lessons from its economic success story.

Hosting a meeting of this calibre that will draw attention — and scrutiny — from around the world will be “very significant”, said Nguyen Vinh Quang, an analyst at Vietnam’s Center for Strategic Studies and International Development.

“It will show Vietnam’s contribution to global peace. Secondly, Vietnam can affirm its role as a reliable partner for countries around the world,” he told AFP.

Trump has said he is eager to meet with Kim again after their historic summit in June, the first-ever meeting between two sitting leaders from two countries that never formally ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

The leaders agreed on a vaguely-worded statement in which Kim pledged to work toward “the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

But progress has since stalled with the two sides sparring over what that means.

Kim is hoping for an easing of international sanctions but the United States insists on maintaining maximum pressure until Pyongyang moves forward on giving up its nuclear weapons.


Six Arrested For Killing, Eating Endangered Monkey

A spider monkey cub (Ateles hybrids), born two days ago, and its mother are pictured, at Santa Fe zoo, in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia on September 13, 2018. The spider monkey is an extinction danger species. JOAQUIN SARMIENTO / AFP


Six men were arrested in central Vietnam for killing and eating an endangered monkey while live streaming it on a social media site, police said Friday.

The trafficking and consumption of rare and endangered species is widespread in Vietnam as many still believe in the healing and medicinal qualities of the animals’ body parts.

But the sale of the animals occurs on the black market, and consumers rarely broadcast the killing and eating of the creatures, which are protected under Vietnam’s conservation laws.

The six men, aged from 35 to 59, filmed themselves with a mobile phone eating a live langur monkey and streamed the gruesome video on Facebook on November 17.

They were finally identified and arrested on Thursday.

“It took time for us to figure out the suspects involved,” a police officer in central Ha Tinh province told AFP.

The men have been accused of violating regulations on protecting “endangered and precious animals” and they confessed to the crime, said a statement posted on Ha Tinh provincial police’s website.

One of the men had bought the monkey off a hunter for $49, said the statement.

Leaf-eating langurs are among the most endangered primate species in the world and are only found in the northern part of Vietnam.

The Southeast Asian country is also home to other endangered species, including the Red River giant soft-shell turtle, the mountainous Saola antelope, and the snub-nosed Tonkin monkey.

But critics say conservation protection laws are not enforced effectively, and poaching continues unchecked — feeding an appetite for rare and endangered species domestically and in neighbouring China.


Nine Sentenced To Death In Vietnam Over Hard Drugs

Vietnam Flag


Nine drug smugglers were sentenced to death in Vietnam on Friday for selling methamphetamine and heroin in a country with some of the toughest drug laws in the world.

Heroin has long been the drug of choice among users in Vietnam, mostly older men, but synthetic drugs use is on the rise especially among a growing class of hard-partying youth.

The sentences handed down Friday were among the toughest in years and came after a four-long trial in northern Ha Nam province.

The ringleaders were convicted for trading 18.5 kilograms (40 pounds) of heroin and 563 grams of methamphetamine in northern Vietnam, according to the state-run Vietnam news agency.

Three others were given life in prison, and 10 others were sentenced to between seven to 21 years in jail in connection with the drug ring.

“The investigation showed that 22 defendants had illegally traded drugs many times,” Ha Nam people’s court said on its website.

Separately, four men were also sentenced to death in northeastern Cao Bang province on Friday for dealing heroin, state media reported.

Communist Vietnam has long vowed to tackle “social vices” including drug use, which is prevalent throughout the country.

It has some of the harshest punishments in the world, and anyone caught with more than 600 grams (21 ounces) of heroin or more than 20 kilograms of opium can be sentenced to death.

Authorities have struggled to contain a growing trend among youth for synthetic drugs such as Ecstasy, methamphetamines or Ketamine.

Seven people died after using drugs at an electronic music festival in September in Hanoi, a buttoned-up capital with a reputation for being conservative.

Many of the synthetic drugs on the market in Vietnam come from the notorious Golden Triangle region, a lawless borderland region covering parts of Thailand, Myanmar and Lao.