US President Donald Trump (R) walks with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un during a break in talks at the second US-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 28, 2019.
AFP/Saul Loeb
Trump 'walks' as North Korea talks end abruptly without deal
Richard Carter, Sebastian Smith (Philstar.com) - February 28, 2019 - 4:10pm

HANOI, Vietnam — The US-North Korea nuclear summit in Hanoi ended abruptly without a deal Thursday, with President Donald Trump saying he had decided to "walk" in the face of Kim Jong Un's demands to drop sanctions.

The much-anticipated second meeting between the two leaders was supposed to build on their historic first summit in Singapore, but they failed to sign a joint statement as initially scheduled and the talks ended in deadlock.

"Sometimes you have to walk and this was just one of those times," an unusually downbeat Trump told reporters.

"Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn't do that," said.

But Trump insisted he was "optimistic that the progress we made" before and during the summit left them "in position to have a really good outcome" in the future.

"I'd much rather do it right than do it fast," he added.

He noted Kim had vowed not to resume nuclear or ballistic missile testing -- something he previously identified as a yardstick for success -- but said a third summit with the Pyongyang strongman was not on the cards so far, despite reiterating their "close relationship".

"We just like each other... there's a warmth that we have and I hope that stays, I think it will," said Trump.

'Major failure'

The outcome in Hanoi fell far short of the pre-meeting expectations and hopes, after critics said their initial historic meeting in Singapore was more style over substance. 

"This is a major failure," tweeted Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund peace foundation. 

It showed the limit of summitry, he added, with "not enough time or staff" to work out a deal.

In the original White House programme, a "Joint Agreement Signing Ceremony" had been scheduled in Hanoi as well as a working lunch for the two leaders. 

In the event, both men left the summit venue without signing anything and Trump moved up his news conference by two hours.

Ankit Panda, from the Federation of American Scientists, warned on Twitter that the White House's expectation of further talks "does not have to be a perception shared in North Korea."

"Kim may have left irate, for all we know. He may have no intention of continuing this," added Panda.

Trump flew around the world for the meeting and Kim undertook a mammoth two-and-a-half-day trek through China in his olive green train, travelling 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles).

At first the smiles and bonhomie from Singapore ran on into their second date in Hanoi as Trump touted the "special relationship" between the two, although concrete statements were vague.

The US president frequently dangled the prospect of a brighter economic future for a nuclear-free North Korea, at one point saying there was "AWESOME" potential.

From the outset, he had appeared to downplay expectations of an immediate breakthrough in nuclear talks, saying he was in "no rush" to clinch a rapid deal and was content if a pause in missile testing continued.

But Harry Kazianis, Director of Korean Studies at the Centre for the National Interest, said that no agreement was better than a bad one.

There would be "nothing worse than signing a deal just to get something", he told AFP.

"The challenge is North Korea's nuclear weapons are already a reality," he added. "Getting a deal that does little to nothing to remove that threat would be far worse than a flawed deal."

'Rocket man'

In Singapore the two signed a vague document in which Kim pledged to "work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

Progress subsequently stalled, with the two sides disagreeing on what that means, as the North sought relief from sanctions and Washington pressed for concrete steps towards it giving up its weapons.

As in Singapore, the two men put on a show of bonhomie in Vietnam, appearing to share jokes in front of reporters.

Looking relaxed but appearing to say little, they indulged in a poolside stroll Thursday around the gardens of the luxury Metropole Hotel, a colonial-era building that has played host to stars ranging from Charlie Chaplin to Brad Pitt.

It was a far cry from the height of missile-testing tensions in 2017 when Trump slammed Kim as "rocket man" and the younger man branded the American president a "mentally deranged US dotard".

In apparently unprecedented scenes, Kim answered unscripted questions from foreign reporters, saying he would welcome the establishment of a US liaison office in Pyongyang, which would be a step on the way to diplomatic normalisation.

Before the summit, there was talk that there could be a political declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War which finished technically with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

There were also hopes Kim could pledge to destroy North Korea's decades-old Yongbyon nuclear complex, which has long been at the heart of Pyongyang's atomic development but remains shrouded in secrecy. North Korea has promised to mothball it twice before.

A patent distraction from the summit was a scandal back home in Washington with Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen calling him a "racist" and a "conman" during a congressional hearing.

"He lied a lot," the president said simply in response on Thursday.

Related video:

DONALD TRUMP KIM JONG UN NORTH KOREA UNITED STATES VIETNAM
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 17, 2019 - 10:00am

The United States formally concluded that North Korea ordered the murder of Kim Jong-Nam, a half-brother and potential rival to ruler Kim Jong-Un, with the VX nerve agent.

"This public display of contempt for universal norms against chemical weapons use further demonstrates the reckless nature of North Korea and underscores that we cannot afford to tolerate a North Korean WMD program of any kind," US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

The finding triggered another layer of US economic sanctions against Pyongyang, just as South Korea reported that the regime is ready for talks to end a nuclear standoff.

September 17, 2019 - 10:00am

US President Donald Trump says that it is "probably not" the right time for him to visit North Korea but he could see doing so sometime in the future.

"I don't think we're ready for that," Trump tells reporters when asked about visiting Pyongyang for a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "I think we have a ways to go yet.

"The relationship is very good," Trump adds, but the time was not right for a visit to Pyongyang. — AFP

September 10, 2019 - 5:06pm

South Korea's military say North Korea fired projectiles into the sea hours after Pyongyang said it was willing to hold working-level talks this month with the United States.

Negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have been gridlocked since a second summit between the North's leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in February ended without a deal.

North Korea twice launched "unidentified projectiles" Tuesday morning in an easterly direction. The objects flew approximately 330 kilometres (205 miles) from the Kaechon area in South Pyongan province, according to the South Korean military. — AFP

August 31, 2019 - 1:40pm

North Korea lashes out at US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over his comments on Pyongyang's "rogue behaviour" and warned its expectations for nuclear talks with Washington are "gradually disappearing".

Pyongyang's angry words come as working-level talks with Washington remain gridlocked, despite an agreement in June between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump to kickstart the process.

Instead no progress has been made in recent weeks, as the reclusive state launched a series of weapons tests in protest at joint military exercises between the US and South Korea. — AFP

August 10, 2019 - 9:28am

US President Donald Trump says that he agreed with Kim Jong Un's opposition to US-South Korea war games, refusing to criticize missile tests that Pyongyang said are a "solemn warning" over the exercises.

Trump says he had received a "beautiful letter" from Kim expressing Pyongyang's anger over the joint war games, which spurred the series of tests of extremely fast, short-range guided missiles.

But hours after Trump said he foresaw having another meeting with Kim, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea fired two more apparent rockets into the East Sea, or Sea of Japan. — AFP

August 7, 2019 - 1:17pm

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un says the country's latest missile launches were a warning to Washington and Seoul over their joint war games, state news agency KCNA reports, as tensions rise on the Korean peninsula.

The latest launch by the nuclear-armed North came after the South Korean and US militaries began mainly computer-simulated joint exercises on Monday to test Seoul's ability to take operational control in wartime.

Those drills are taking place despite Pyongyang's warnings that the exercises would jeopardise nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea. — AFP

Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with