February 28, 2019 18:23
U.S. President Donald Trump said his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended Thursday with no agreement because of a divide over the lifting of U.S. sanctions.
"Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn't do that," Trump told reporters at a closing news conference in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, the venue for the talks.
"They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas we wanted, but we couldn't give up all the sanctions for that." He said they discussed dismantling the Yongbyon nuclear complex and that Kim promised him North Korea would not conduct tests of rockets, missiles or anything nuclear.
Thursday's meetings ended early with Trump and Kim skipping a planned lunch and signing ceremony. Trump described the Hanoi talks as "productive" and said he thinks the two sides will eventually reach an agreement about denuclearization of North Korea, with time. But he said a third summit has not yet been set.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped talks between the two countries would resume soon.
◆ Earlier Optimism
Earlier in the day, both Trump and Kim expressed optimism for their discussions about North Korea's nuclear program.
Trump said he thinks the relationship between the two nations is better than it has ever been.
"It is little wonder these negotiations broke down after Trump has spent more time in office blowing up nuclear treaties than building them," says Akira Kawasaki of the international steering group of ICAN, which was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. "We need a real plan rooted in the international community and treaties like the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which the Koreas could join tomorrow and begin the disarmament process with legitimacy."
◆ Patience, Lowered Expectations
While some U.S. officials attempted to lower expectations for the outcome of the second summit, Trump was under pressure to extract something beyond the vague commitment made by Kim last June in Singapore on pledging to give up his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in exchange for a lifting of crushing international sanctions on the impoverished country.
The Singapore summit was hailed as a historical event as Washington and Pyongyang have never had diplomatic relations. When Trump took office there were fears of a renewed war with North Korea as the U.S. president threatened to unleash "fire and fury like the world has never seen" on the northeast Asian country in response to its threats against the United States and its allies.
During their talks Thursday, both Trump and Kim also expressed a favorable view of the possibility of North Korea allowing the United States to open an office in Pyongyang.
◆ Some U.S. Skepticism
U.S. intelligence officials remain skeptical that Pyongyang intends to follow through on Kim's Singapore pledge to denuclearize.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a congressional panel last month that North Korea "has halted its provocative behavior" by refraining from missile tests and nuclear tests for more than a year. "As well, Kim Jong-un continues to demonstrate openness to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
Despite the end to testing, Coats cautioned that "we currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its (weapons of mass destruction) capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities."
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