President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un abruptly cut short their two-day summit on Thursday after the two leaders failed to reach an agreement to dismantle that country’s nuclear weapons. Although Kim said he was ready in principle to denuclearize, he and Trump ended their meetings without sitting for a planned lunch and without participating in a joint signing ceremony.
In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “The two leaders discussed various ways to advance denuclearization and economic driven concepts. No agreement was reached at this time, but their respective teams look forward to meeting in the future.”
Trump planned to address the state of negotiations at a news conference, which was moved ahead by two hours, before he departs Vietnam on Thursday evening to return to Washington.
For Trump, the surprising turn of events amounted to a diplomatic failure after he had hoped his second summit with Kim, following their meeting last summer in Singapore, would produce demonstrable progress toward North Korea’s denuclearization.
Sitting beside Kim on Thursday morning, Trump said the pair had enjoyed very good discussions over dinner the night before, with “a lot of great ideas being thrown about,” adding that “importantly, I think the relationship is, you know, just very strong.”
The Washington Post’s David Nakamura asked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if he felt confident about the meeting with President Trump.
“And when you have a good relationship, a lot of good things happen. So, I can’t speak necessarily for today, but I can say this that, a little bit longer-term, and over a period of time, I know we’re going to have a fantastic success with respect to Chairman Kim and North Korea.”
Trump repeatedly stressed there was “no rush” to make a deal. “Chairman Kim and myself, we want to do the right deal. Speed is not important,” he said.
And Kim said he was ready to denuclearize, at least in principle. “If I’m not willing to do that, I wouldn’t be here right now,” he said through an interpreter.
Both Kim and Trump also said they would welcome the idea of opening a U.S. liaison office in the North Korean capital. Washington does not have direct diplomatic representation in Pyongyang.
Asked if he was confident the pair would reach a deal, Kim was equally guarded.
President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un opened their second summit Wednesday with hopeful words and a private chat before sitting down for dinner and further talks about North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
“It’s too early to tell. I won’t prejudge,” Kim said in reply to the question from a Washington Post reporter, a rare response from a North Korean leader to an independent journalist. “From what I feel right now, I do have a feeling that good results will come.”
Kim also said the whole world was watching them.
“There would be people welcoming, and people viewing our meeting with skepticism, but there would also be people who would look at us spending a great time together, like a scene in a fantasy movie,” he said.
On Wednesday night, Trump offered a public embrace of Kim, referring to the authoritarian ruler as “my friend” and stating that he is “satisfied” with the progress of their negotiations.
“Some people would like to see it be quicker. I’m satisfied; you’re satisfied,” Trump told Kim before a private, one-on-one meeting, followed by a social dinner with a small group of aides at the luxurious, five-star Metropole hotel. “We want to be happy with what we’re doing.”
Trump said he believed their first summit, in Singapore, was a success and added that their meetings in Hanoi “will be equal to or greater than the first.” He held up Vietnam as a model for economic growth for North Korea, which he said has “unlimited” potential.
“I look forward to watching it happen, and we will help it happen,” Trump said, sitting next to Kim in front of a row of American and North Korean flags. The president wore a dark suit and striped tie, while Kim wore his traditional Mao-style suit. The North Korean leader smiled as Trump spoke.
On Thursday morning, Trump and Kim arrived in separate motorcades for the second day of summit talks at the hotel. After speaking to reporters seated in front of U.S. and North Korea flags, they strolled briefly through the hotel, pausing to chat briefly with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, by the pool.
Trump’s warm greeting of Kim on Wednesday night suggested that the president was hopeful that their personal rapport can help bridge gaps in the negotiations among lower-level aides ahead of the summit.
Trump said the biggest area of progress since Singapore was their “relationship,” and in a tweet after the dinner he said the two had “very good dialogue.”
Kim smiled warmly as the two men shook hands, but looked uncomfortable in the glare of television cameras and the loud clicking of shutters from photographers. He praised Trump for his “extraordinary and courageous political decision” that allowed their reunion to take place after 261 days and hinted that he had his own doubters to overcome at home.
But if there was one thing the two men agreed on, it was that this summit was going to be a success.
“Disbelief and misunderstandings were everywhere, and old hostile habits were getting in our way, but we’ve overcome it well, come face to face and walked all the way to Hanoi in 260 days,” Kim Jong Un said in the photo op with Trump. “I think it’s been a time period that took me more agony, effort and patience than ever. I am confident a great result will be produced this time to be welcomed by everyone, and I will do my best toward that goal.”