But the carnival-like atmosphere in the Vietnamese capital, with street artists painting likenesses of the leaders and vendors hawking T-shirts showing Kim waving and Trump giving a thumbs-up, contrasted with the serious items on their agenda: North Korea's nuclear weapons program and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
"We're going to have a very busy day tomorrow", said a smiling, relaxed-looking Trump, seated beside Kim at a round table with the other four officials and two interpreters.
Trump received a red carpet welcome at Noi Bai International airport where white uniformed military guards marched into place on a cool and somewhat foggy night.
In contrast to Trump's direct route to the summit, Kim embarked on a two-and-a-half day, 4,000 kilometer (2,500 mile) odyssey through China by train. Currently, officials in the US estimate that North Korea has up to 60 nuclear weapons.
While Pyongyang is seeking an easing of the sanctions, experts have warned the U.S. against offering North Korea relief if the country does not do more than in previous agreements. The talks follow a historic summit between the two leaders in Singapore past year.
Speaking to Sputnik's Loud and Clear, radio host Brian Becker noted that North Korea wants a guarantee that the U.S. will not engage in future nuclear intimidation tactics, while Washington has its own goal: denuclearization.
On Wednesday, Trump will be meeting Vietnam's President and Secretary-General of the Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong as well as the country's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
North Korea has not held a nuclear or missile test since 2017, but analysts say the two leaders have to move beyond summit symbolism.
Since then, Trump has said that he and Kim fell "in love".
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After months of high-level diplomacy, U.S. officials have made clear that they do not yet know if North Korea is prepared to give up its nuclear weapons.
The dinner with Kim, preceded by a short one-on-one meeting, was only disclosed by Sanders during a Monday night refueling stop by Air Force One on its flight to Vietnam.
Trump faults previous administrations for inaction on North Korea. I want big steps.
North Korea has continued to build warheads and missiles, according to satellite-imagery analysis and leaked American intelligence.
"But then the United States thought it didn't match up and wanted a list of nuclear weapons as well".
Some critics worry that a peace declaration - which would come more than 65 years after the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War - could erode the American justification for stationing about 28,500 troops in neighbouring South Korea.
The Trump tweet, sporting his familiar use of capital letters for emphasis, said the opportunities facing a denuclearised North Korea were "like nearly none other in history". As the leaders dined on steak and chocolate cake, Trump's former personal attorney was readying explosive congressional testimony claiming the president is a "conman" who lied abut his business interests with Russian Federation.
Some experts say North Korea likely wants to trade the destruction of its nuclear development and research centre at Yongbyon for a USA promise to formally declare the end of the war, open a liaison office in Pyongyang and allow the North to resume some lucrative economic projects with South Korea.
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