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.
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.