American President Donald Trump said today in his State of the Union address that he will hold a two-day summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un February 27-28 in Vietnam to continue his efforts to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear weapons.
Trump has said his outreach to Kim and their first meeting last June in Singapore opened a path to peace. But there is not yet a concrete plan for how denuclearisation could be implemented.
"As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula," Trump said.
"Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months.
"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.
"Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one," he said in announcing their second meeting.
Denuclearising North Korea is something that has eluded the US for more than two decades, since it was first learned that North Korea was close to acquiring the means for nuclear weapons.
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.
Last year, 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.
It has repeatedly demanded that the United States reciprocate with measures such as sanctions relief, but Washington has called for North Korea to take steps such as providing a detailed account of its nuclear and missile facilities that would be inspected and dismantled under a potential deal.
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.
In his first State of the Union address to a divided Congress, Trump called on Washington to reject "the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution."
He warned emboldened Democrats that "ridiculous partisan investigations" into his administration and businesses could hamper a surging American economy.
Trump peppered his speech with calls for bipartisanship, urging Washington to govern "not as two parties, but as one nation."
But his message clashed with the rancorous atmosphere he has helped cultivate in the nation's capital, as well as the desire of most Democrats to block his path during his next two years in office.
Their opposition was on vivid display as Democratic congresswomen in the audience formed a sea of white in a nod to early 20th-century suffragettes.
Trump spoke at a critical moment in his presidency, staring down a two-year stretch that will determine whether he is re-elected or leaves office in defeat.
His speech sought to shore up Republican support that had eroded slightly during the recent government shutdown and previewed a fresh defence against Democrats as they ready a round of investigations into every aspect of his administration.
"If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation," he declared.
Lawmakers in the cavernous House chamber sat largely silent.
Looming over the president's address was a fast-approaching February 15 deadline to fund the government and avoid another shutdown.
Democrats have refused to acquiesce to his demands for a border wall, and Republicans are increasingly unwilling to shut down the government to help him fulfill his signature campaign pledge. Nor does the GOP support the president's plan to declare a national emergency if Congress won't fund the wall.
Wary of publicly highlighting those intraparty divisions, Trump made no mention of an emergency declaration in his remarks.
He did offer a lengthy defense of his call for a border wall, declaring: "I will build it."
But he delivered no ultimatums about what it would take for him to sign legislation to keep the government open.
"I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country," he said, painting a dark and foreboding picture of the risks posed to Americans by illegal immigration.
The 72-year-old Trump harkened back to moments of American greatness, celebrating the moon landing as astronaut Buzz Aldrin looked on from the audience and heralding the liberation of Europe from the Nazis.
He led the House chamber in singing happy birthday to a Holocaust survivor sitting with first lady Melania Trump.
"Together, we represent the most extraordinary nation in all of history. What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered?" Trump said.
The president ticked through a litany of issues with crossover appeal, including boosting infrastructure, lowering prescription drug costs and combating childhood cancer.
But he also appealed to his political base, both with his harsh rhetoric on immigration and a call for Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the "late-term abortion of children."
Trump devoted much of his speech to foreign policy, another area where Republicans have increasingly distanced themselves from the White House. He announced details of a second meeting with Kim Jong Un, and as he condemned political turmoil in Venezuela, Trump declared that "America will never be a socialist country" — a remark that may also have been targeted at high-profile Democrats who identify as socialists.
As he stood before lawmakers, the president was surrounded by symbols of his emboldened political opposition.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was praised by Democrats for her hard-line negotiating during the shutdown, sat behind Trump as he spoke.
Many House Democratic women wore white, the colour favored by early 20th-century suffragettes. And several senators running for president were also in the audience, including Senators Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
Another Democratic star, Stacey Abrams, delivered the party's response to Trump.
Abrams narrowly lost her bid in November to become America's first black female governor, and party leaders are aggressively recruiting her to run for US Senate from Georgia.
Speaking from Atlanta, Abrams called the shutdown a political stunt that "defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people, but our values."
Trump's address amounted to an opening argument for his re-election campaign.
Polls show he has work to do, with his approval rating falling to just 34 per cent after the shutdown, according to a recent survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
One bright spot for the president has been the economy, which has added jobs for 100 straight months.
He said the US has "the hottest economy anywhere in the world."
"The only thing that can stop it," he said, "are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations" — an apparent swipe at the special counsel investigation into ties between Russia and Trump's 2016 campaign, as well as the upcoming congressional investigations.
The diverse Democratic caucus, which includes a bevy of women, sat silently for much of Trump's speech.
But they leapt to their feet when he noted there are "more women in the workforce than ever before."
The increase is due to population growth — and not something Trump can credit to any of his policies.
Turning to foreign policy, another area where Republicans have increasingly been willing to distance themselves from the president, Trump defended his decisions to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
"Great nations do not fight endless wars," he said, adding that the US is working with allies to "destroy the remnants" of the Islamic State group and that he has "accelerated" efforts to reach a settlement in Afghanistan.
IS militants have lost territory since Trump's surprise announcement in December that he was pulling US forces out, but military officials warn the fighters could regroup within six months to a year after the Americans leave.
Several leading GOP lawmakers have sharply criticised his plans to withdraw from Syria, as well as from Afghanistan.
Trump's guests for the speech include Anna Marie Johnson, a woman whose life sentence for drug offences was commuted by the president, and Joshua Trump, a sixth-grade student from Wilmington, Delaware, who has been bullied over his last name.
They sat with first lady Melania Trump during the address.