Donald Trump has flown into Vietnam on Air Force One for his summit with Kim Jong-un, who made a dramatic arrival by armoured train, before switching to a limousine for a tour of Hanoi.
Flanked by his famous team of besuited bodyguards and followed by a crowd of thousands, the North Korean leader revelled in the spectacle ahead of his summit with Mr Trump in the Vietnamese capital.
The talks will begin on Wednesday with an official greeting and private dinner, followed by a series of meetings on Thursday.
The second summit between the two leaders aims to find a solution to one of the world’s biggest security crises — North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Their first meeting in Singapore last June failed to produce any obvious gains, although Mr Trump declared it a success. The United States wants North Korea to commit to complete and verifiable denuclearisation, but only received vague promises on this from Kim, while agreeing to suspend military exercises with South Korea in the region.
Critics called this a major concession with no guarantees in return. But Pyongyang claims it has taken major steps towards denuclearisation, not testing any ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons for more than a year, and blowing up the entrances to its atomic test site.
However, the value of nuclear facilities such as the Punggye-ri test site are unclear, and the West has no way of knowing what capabilities Kim retains. Satellite images suggest North Korea’s key nuclear reactor for producing weapons-grade plutonium, Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center, may still be in operation.
The North wants increased security guarantees, which could come in the form of a declaration of an end to the 1950-53 Korean War. Mr Trump has repeatedly hinted at withdrawing US troops from South Korea, but there are fears over what this could mean for the region.
For Kim, the relationship with Mr Trump gives him legitimacy on the global stage and may be a path towards weakening economic sanctions against North Korea. The young North Korean leader is known for his brutality, arranging the murder of his uncle and keeping 100,000 prisoners in forced labour as his citizens live in abject poverty.
But Mr Trump is more concerned with maintaining a dialogue and ending the North’s nuclear program than Kim’s human rights record. Kim has continued his diplomacy efforts following the Singapore summit, sending gushing letters to the US President, who said the pair “fell in love”.
He also met with the Chinese president Xi Jinping and South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who is also eager to forge peace between the divided powers.
“I think we’ll have a very tremendous summit,” said Mr Trump before leaving Washington on Monday.
But experts are concerned he could make more concessions without the guarantee that North Korea will give up anything.
The pair will be joined by two Kim aides, plus White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Kim prefers to meet with Mr Trump rather than his staff, with North Korea accusing Mr Pompeo of having a “gangster like” attitude at a meeting following the first summit, before calling a later meeting in New York.
However, staff-level engagement has ramped up this year ahead of the second summit, as Hanoi scrambled to arrange security in just ten days, where Singapore had two months.
Mr Trump dangled a tantalising offer of renewed influence for Kim before the summit, saying that giving up nuclear weapons could help the country “fast become one of the great economic powers.”
The US President said he was certain “Chairman Kim” would “make a wise decision”.
The days of calling him “little rocket man” and promising “fire and fury” are gone, but whether this softer approach can yield results remains uncertain.
Mr Trump and the White House have played down expectations for this summit, with the President last week saying he was in “no rush” for Pyongyang to prove it was abandoning its weapons.