By Tunde Niyi-Akinmade
Donald Trump, the United States President and Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader failed to reach a nuclear agreement during their second summit, which was abruptly cut short in Hanoi, Vietnam on Thursday afternoon.
Trump told newsmen after the summit that there were two sticking points that had made a deal “inappropriate” at this time.
“Kim wanted sanctions to be “lifted in their entirety and we wouldn’t do that,” Trump said.
The US president added that while Kim had offered to “denuke a large area that we wanted,” including the Yonghyon site, Kim was not willing to meet U.S. demands to dismantle a number of other nuclear facilities, including a second uranium enrichment site.
“You always have to be prepared to walk,” Trump said, referring to the stalled talks. “I could’ve 100 percent signed something today. We had papers ready to sign … I’d much rather do it right than do it fast,” Trump told newsmen.
The summit was brought to an abrupt end as the two leaders had planned to have a working lunch before partaking in a joint signing ceremony at around 2 p.m. local time. But the White House announced around midday that both events would be cancelled. A scheduled press conference with Trump was pushed up by about two hours.
However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who appeared alongside Trump at the press conference, said the U.S. and North Korea had made “real progress” in Hanoi despite the breakdown in negotiations. Pompeo added that the two sides were attempting to unravel an “incredibly difficult problem” and said negotiations would continue “in the weeks ahead.”
When asked whether Pyongyang would be willing to give up all their nuclear weapons, Trump refused to comment — saying that Kim’s vision did not “not exactly” align with Washington’s.
Trump said, however, that the North Korean leader had promised to maintain a moratorium on the testing of nuclear weapons and missiles.
“I trust him. I take him at his word,” the president said of Kim.
Trump said no plans had been made for the two leaders to meet again, though he stressed the summit had ended amicably.
It was a “very friendly” parting, the president said, noting that he and the North Korean leader share a “warmth” which he hopes will continue.
“I want to keep the relationship,” Trump said.
Although analysts had warned that Trump and Kim’s second meeting could conclude without a substantial agreement just like their first meeting in Singapore, even though there had initially been talk of the U.S. opening diplomatic channels with North Korea or even the declaration of an end of the Korean war.
Earlier on Thursday, Kim stressed that he remained open to denuclearization, although the North Korean leader has never committed to a definition of what that would entail. In December, the country’s state-run news agency said North Korea would not denuke unless the United States dismantled its own nuclear network, which could reach the Korean peninsula.
However, Kim insisted that denuclearization was still on the table, hence his appearance in Vietnam.
“If I’m not willing to do that, I wouldn’t be here right now,” Kim said.
Kim said he remained optimistic about the ultimate outcome of the summit.
“From what I feel right now, I do have a feeling that good results will come,” Kim said.
In the lead-up to the summit, Trump downplayed any demands the U.S. would impose upon the North. The move was a sharp contrast to Trump’s strong words before his summit with Kim in Singapore last year, after which he trumpeted that Pyongyang would denuclearize and ultimately rid itself of its nuclear arsenal.