North Korean armored train enters China while Vietnam awaits Kim Jong Un

Vietnamese police officers stand guard outside the North Korea-USA summit's media centre in Hanoi on Saturday

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un departed Pyongyang on Saturday aboard a special train that will take him through China to Vietnam, where he is set to meet with US President Donald Trump next week.

Trump and Kim met in Singapore last June, marking the first summit between a sitting United States president and a North Korean leader, but the conference produced only a vague pledge to work towards denuclearization.

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

The visit by Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea and chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK, will be made at the invitation of General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee and State President Nguyen Phu Trong, the ministry announced on its website.

After crossing onto Vietnamese soil, he would disembark his train and drive the 170 kilometers (105 miles) to Hanoi by auto, according to sources cited by Reuters. Kim will travel at least two-and-a-half days by train through China.

On Kim's last rail trip in January, he travelled to Beijing with his entourage in an olive-green train emblazoned with a yellow stripe.

The summit is slated for Wednesday and Thursday.

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Security was tight before the train's arrival in China, with police cordoning off the riverfront about 100 metres from the bridge with tape and metal barriers.

Two sources with direct knowledge of security and logistics planning told Reuters on Wednesday that Vietnam was preparing for Kim to arrive by train.

Travel by train has been a favorite mode of transport for Kim Jong Un, and his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung.

It is not known if he will travel by train from Pyongyang via China or fly to a nearby Chinese city. 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.

"The best route is the Beijing-Guangzhou line", said Zhao Jian, who studies China's railway system at Beijing Jiaotong University, describing a route that would see Kim travel straight down to southern China, before heading west into Guangxi province, which borders Vietnam.

"China wants North Korea to make some steps to denuclearise as much as anyone else".

Hanoi has been gearing up for the summit with beefed-up security.

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