Mr Trump was speaking during the State of the Union address, during which he described a “historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula” as crucial to national security.
He told Congress: “If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea with potentially millions of people killed”.
“Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong-un is a good one,” he said.
Mr Trump and Mr Kim became the first leaders of their two countries to meet head-to-head in a summit in Singapore last June.
Those talks were met with a wave of optimism – North Korea released American detainees, suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and dismantled a nuclear test site and parts of a rocket launch facility without the presence of outside experts.
Since then, however, there has been little-to-no concrete progress made towards the normalisation of relations.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress last week that US intelligence officials do not believe Kim will eliminate his nuclear weapons or the capacity to build more because he believes they are key to the survival of the regime. Satellite video taken since the June summit has indicated North Korea is continuing to produce nuclear materials at its weapons factories.
At the second Trump-Kim summit, some experts say North Korea is likely to seek to trade the destruction of its main Yongbyon nuclear complex for a US promise to formally declare the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, open a liaison office in Pyongyang and allow the North to resume some lucrative economic projects with South Korea.
Stephen Biegun, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s special representative for North Korea, is hopeful, but acknowledges that many issues make it especially complicated for the two countries to “embark on a diplomatic initiative of this magnitude.” Mr Biegun was in Pyongyang on Tuesday.
The Vietnamese city where the two leaders will meet was not announced. The country, however, is keen to project itself on the world stage. It is a single-party communist state that boasts of tight political control and a tough security apparatus similar to Singapore’s.
Additional reporting by agencies
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