Trump ‘had to walk away’ from nuclear deal
Denuclearisation talks break down after North Korea demands end to sanctions
HANOI President Donald Trump said yesterday he had walked away from a nuclear deal at a summit with Mr Kim Jong Un because of unacceptable North Korean demands to lift punishing US-led sanctions.
Earlier, both Mr Trump and the North Korean leader had expressed hope for progress on improving relations and on the key issue of denuclearisation in their talks in the Vietnamese capital, their second summit in eight months.
"It was all about the sanctions," Mr Trump said at a news conference after the talks were cut short.
"Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn't do that."
The United Nations and the US ratcheted up sanctions on North Korea when the reclusive state undertook a series of nuclear and ballistic missile tests in 2017, cutting off its main sources of hard cash.
Both Mr Trump and Mr Kim left the venue of their talks, the French colonial-era Metropole hotel, without attending a planned lunch together, and returned to their hotels.
"Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times," Mr Trump said, adding "it was a friendly walk".
He left the country soon after.
"I am about to get on a plane and fly back to a wonderful place called Washington, DC," Mr Trump told reporters before taking off in Air Force One yesterday afternoon.
Failure to reach an agreement marks a setback for Mr Trump, a self-styled dealmaker under pressure at home over his ties to Russia and testimony from Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer who accused him of breaking the law while in office.
Since their first summit in Singapore in June last year, Mr Trump has stressed the good chemistry he has with Mr Kim, but there have been questions about whether the bonhomie could move them beyond summit pageantry to substantive progress on eliminating a North Korean nuclear arsenal that threatens the US.
While Mr Trump had said he was in "no rush" to strike a deal with North Korea and wanted to do the right deal with Mr Kim, the White House had been confident enough to schedule a "joint agreement signing ceremony" at the conclusion of talks.
There was no indication of when Mr Trump and Mr Kim might meet again, but the White House said the "respective teams look forward to meeting in the future".
The Singapore summit, the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader, produced a vague statement in which Mr Kim pledged to work towards denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
But little progress followed.
Kicking off their second day in Hanoi, Mr Trump said he would be happy as long as North Korea conducted no more nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile tests.
North Korea has conducted no nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile tests since late 2017. Mr Trump said Mr Kim had promised him there would be no more.
He said they had discussed dismantling North Korea's main nuclear facility at Yongbyon, which Mr Kim was willing to do, but he wanted sanctions relief.
"We asked him to do more and he was unprepared to do that," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the news conference, referring to Mr Kim.
Earlier Mr Kim and Mr Trump, seated across from each other at a conference table, appeared confident of progress, and Mr Kim had suggested he was ready to give up his nuclear bombs.
"If I am not willing to do that, I won't be here right now," Mr Kim told reporters through an interpreter, when asked if he was ready to give up his nuclear weapons.
Mr Trump said: "That might be the best answer you've ever heard." - REUTERS