President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un ended the second summit in Vietnam without any agreements reached, but talks between the two nations will continue in the future.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement shortly after the meeting between the two leaders was cut short, citing “no agreement” was made during the “good and constructive” meeting.
“The two leaders discussed various ways to advance denuclearization and economic driven concepts,” the statement reads. “No agreement was reached at this time, but their respective teams look forward to meeting in the future.”
During a press conference early Thursday morning Eastern time, Trump told reporters in Hanoi that U.S. was unwilling to meet Kim’s demand of lifting all sanctions “in their entirety” in exchange for a large portion of areas the regime was willing to de-nuke.
“It was about the sanctions,” Trump said. “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that. And they were willing to de-nuke a large portion of the areas we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all the sanctions for that.”
The president explained that he and Kim had a “productive” meetings, despite cutting the second summit short and leaving without an agreement.
“It wasn’t a good thing to be signing anything,” Trump said. “I could have 100 percent signed something today — we actually had papers ready to be signed — but it just wasn’t appropriate. I want to do it right: I’d much rather do it right than do it fast.”
Trump added, “Sometimes, you have to walk and this was just one of those times.”
In specific, negotiations fell through after North Korea demanded a full removal of U.S.-led international sanctions in exchange for the closure of one weapon facility, the Yongbyon nuclear facility. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, joining the President in the press conference, said the United States wasn’t willing to make a deal unless North Korea committed to giving up its secretive nuclear facilities outside Yongbyon, along with giving up its missile and warhead programs.
“[Kim] wants to de-nuke, but he wants to just do areas that are less important than the areas that we want,” Trump said. “We know the country very well, believe it or not, we know every inch of that country.”
Regarding nuclear and missile testing, Trump said that the North Korean leader promised him that Pyongyang would not resume its testing.
“One of the things Chairman Kim promised me last night is he’s not going to do testing of rockets and nuclear,” Trump said. “I trust him and I take him at his word.”
Both leaders began talks on the second day of the Hanoi summit with hopes for progress on improving relations and the key issue of denuclearization. Earlier, during a quick Q&A session with reporters, Kim had signaled that he was ready to denuclearize.
“If I’m not willing to do that, I won’t be here right now,” Kim said in response to a reporter’s question.
“That might be the best answer you’ve ever heard,” Mr. Trump replied.
In a translated statement from South Korea’s Blue House, a spokesperson for President Moon Jae-in said it was “regrettable” Mr. Trump and Chairman Kim were unable to reach a deal at the summit.
President Moon added that South Korea hopes that the United States and North Korea “will continue to have active dialogues on various levels going forward on the basis of the discussion results from this summit. The Korean Government will do all it can to ensure that the United States and North Korea can maintain momentum for dialogue while continuing their close communication and cooperation.”
Trump and Kim met for the first time in Singapore last June, marking the first time a sitting U.S. president sat down with the leader of North Korea. Both leaders signed a document in Singapore agreeing to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. However, negotiations have stalled since the first Trump-Kim Summit. Before the end of the year, North Korea issued a statement, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, stating it will never unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons unless the United States removes its nuclear threat first.
The United States wants North Korea to provide a detailed account of nuclear and missile facilities that would be inspected and dismantled under a potential deal, while the North is insisting that sanctions be lifted first.
On the possibility of a third meeting, Trump told reporters he has yet to commit to another summit.
“It might be soon, it might not be for a long time,” Trump said.