A day that started with the promise of a denuclearization deal and talk of an official declaration to end the Korean War ended abruptly, without an accord.
“Sometimes you have to walk,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference after the talks fell apart.
Mr. Trump said the major sticking point was the lifting of economic sanctions against North Korea. Mr. Kim, the president said, wanted sanctions fully lifted in exchange for dismantling some — but not all — of the North’s nuclear weapons program.
“Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that,” Mr. Trump said. “They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we want, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that.”
Lifting punishing international sanctions that limit North Korea’s ability to import oil, and to export lucrative goods including coal and seafood, is the North’s primary goal in any negotiation. As a result, the United States sees the sanctions as a critical bargaining chip.
Mr. Trump said he and Mr. Kim discussed the closure of North Korea’s main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, and Mr. Kim expressed a willingness to allow the facility to be dismantled.
“He would do that but he wants the sanctions for that,” Mr. Trump said. “As you know, there’s plenty left after that. I just felt it wasn’t good.”
Yongbyon is the North’s largest facility, but not its only one. At his news conference, Mr. Trump acknowledged that the country had another uranium enrichment plant. North Korea has long been suspected of having uranium enrichment capabilities beyond Yongbyon.
Conflicting reactions from regional US allies
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan fully backed President Trump’s decision to walk from his summit meeting with Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, without an agreement, while South Korea called the move regrettable.
“With the strong determination to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump did not make an easy compromise,” Mr. Abe said, speaking to reporters after a phone call with the American president. “I fully support Mr. Trump’s decision.”
Mr. Abe reiterated his desire to meet the North Korean leader and discuss the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea’s agents decades ago. But he has been hawkish on North Korea, championing strong enforcement of sanctions against Pyongyang.
In Seoul, the government of President Moon Jae-in, an outspoken supporter of engagement with North Korea, expressed dismay at the breakdown of the Hanoi summit. Mr. Moon spoke with Mr. Trump after the meeting ended.
“It is regrettable that they could not reach a complete agreement,” said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman of Mr. Moon. “But it also seems clear that both sides have made more significant progress than ever.”
Although the meeting failed to produce an agreement, it has helped Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump “expand the width and depth of understanding what each side needed,” Mr. Moon said. “The prospects for a next meeting are bright given President Trump’s will to continue dialogue and his optimistic views.”
Source: New York Times