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US-NK summit falls apart over NK demands for lifting of all sanctions

HANOI, Vietnam -- US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s summit ended earlier than scheduled Thursday, with the two sides failing to reach an agreement.

Trump and Kim began the second day of their summit at 9 a.m. at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi hotel as scheduled, but the event was cut short, with the leaders leaving the venue at about 1:25 p.m. They were originally scheduled to have a working lunch, and to hold a joint agreement-signing ceremony at about 2 p.m., both of which were canceled and replaced with Trump’s press conference.

“Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that. They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that,” Trump said at the press conference.

“But we had to walk away from that particular suggestion. We had to walk away from that.”

He said that although the two sides had an agreement ready to be signed, he was not prepared to sign, as conditions were unsatisfactory.

Before the summit began Wednesday, US news outlets citing unnamed sources from the Trump administration had reported that the two sides had reached an agreement.

The agreement was reported to have included declaring the end of the Korean War, and the US agreeing to a partial lifting of sanctions in return for the North halting operations of nuclear facilities. 
US President Donald Trump (right) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Yonhap)
US President Donald Trump (right) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Yonhap)

Trump, however, stressed a number of times at the press conference that dialogue with the North has not ended, and that his relationship with Kim remains strong despite the talks falling apart.

Trump took off from Hanoi at 3:47 p.m., and began a telephone conversation with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at 4:50 p.m. (Vietnam time), which lasted for about 25 minutes.

“(Moon) said that he hopes for good results in the follow-up negotiations as the leaders confirmed each other’s positions, and discussed detailed elements (of denuclearization negotiations),” Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said.

The Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson also said that Moon promised his full support in Washington’s dealings with Pyongyang.

“President Moon suggested meeting in the near future to continue more in-depth talks, and President Trump agreed and said (related issues) should be discussed through diplomatic channels.”

Ahead of the Moon-Trump conversation, Kim Eui-kyeom had tried to cast a positive light on the developments while expressing disappointment.

“In particular, President Trump expressing the will to continue talks and positive opinions give the next summit a bright outlook,” Kim Eui-kyeom said.

“President Donald Trump publicly expressing intent to lift or ease sanctions in connection with North Korea’s denuclearization measures shows that discussions between the North and the US have risen to a new level.”

At Trump’s press conference, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also stressed that significant progress has been made despite failing to reach an agreement, and again voiced optimism for future talks.

“We made big progress, and indeed we made even more progress when the two leaders met over the last 24, 36 hours,” Pompeo said during Trump’s press conference. He added that US and North Korean working-level officials will resume negotiations in the future.

Pompeo also revealed that Kim was unwilling to accept conditions put forward by the US. Highlighting that negotiators have been aware that the issue will take time, he said that officials are better equipped now to deal with the matter at hand.

“Our teams have gotten to know each other better. We know what some of the limits are and challenges are, and I think in the days and weeks ahead we can make progress so we can ultimately achieve what the world wants.”

Although Thursday’s events appear to have ended with an unexpected twist, the two leaders had earlier seemed optimistic and positive.

“If I were not ready for such things, I would not have come here,” Kim was quoted as saying by White House pool reporters in response to a question on whether he was ready to denuclearize at the start of the expanded meeting.

To Kim’s statement, Trump chimed in saying, “That might be the best answer you’ve ever heard.”

Kim had earlier said that his instincts told him that good results are in store.
Trump, however, showed a hint of caution in expressing too much optimism over Thursday’s meeting, saying, “I can’t speak necessarily for today but I can tell you that this is a little bit longer term and over a duration of time, I know that it’ll be a fantastic success.”

By Choi He-suk, Korea Herald Correspondent (