United States President Donald Trump has been lowering expectations for his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that begins in Hanoi today. Where once he was talking about a quick and far-reaching deal for Pyongyang’s dismantling of its nuclear programme, the message is now that there is no rush as long as a halt to testing continues. The shift is understandable given the differences in positions and the challenges ahead. It is better that there is a realistic approach based on a step-by-step timetable, rather than grandstanding and political opportunism. The first summit, in Singapore last June, was largely symbolic; ending with the signing of a vaguely worded statement on the North’s denuclearisation, the highlight was the handshakes and smiles of the leaders of arch-enemy nations. But talks have since made no progress and the second high-level meeting is therefore a chance for the setting of meaningful goals. That will be challenging given that sanctions are the sticking point, with the US demanding they can be removed only after Pyongyang provides a complete list of its nuclear inventory, while Kim’s regime contends that it will only do that once the penalties have been withdrawn. It is an understandable position for Kim to take, his country’s nuclear programme being a deterrence against American attack. North Korean leader arrives in Hanoi before two days of meetings Trump and his team therefore have to approach the two-day summit as another step in the process of making peace with North Korea. Vietnam is an inspirational choice for talks – five decades ago, the country was at war with the US and poverty-ridden, and it is now on friendly terms with thriving Chinese and American trade and one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies. China was Vietnam’s obvious model and Kim will be able to see first-hand how foreign trade and investment and development have occurred while the ruling communist leadership has strengthened its hold on power. China helped facilitate the summit and it will have an instrumental role in North Korea’s economic development. But that cannot begin until the US and North Korea overcome their differences. A sensible and obvious first step is for the sides to formally end their state of war.