|US President Donald Trump talks to the press at the end of the summit. — AFP/VNA Photo
HÀ NỘI — In a shocking development, the United States’ delegation decided to walk away from negotiations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the middle of a high-profile summit in the Vietnamese capital.
With the eyes of the world firmly fixed on Hà Nội, US President Donald Trump revealed the talks would end without any agreement reached.
“We had a productive time, he thought and I thought and Secretary Pompeo thought that actually it was a very productive two days, but sometimes you have to walk. This was just one of those times,” President Donald Trump said to waiting reporters.
In an unexpected and last-minute change to the day’s programme, President Trump and DPRK Chairman Kim Jong Un cancelled a scheduled lunch and joint signing ceremony during their summit in Hà Nội.
“We had been working our teams, and brought to bear on the North Koreans for weeks to try and develop a path forward,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, explaining the delegation had been expecting big steps forward in Việt Nam after progress made in Singapore.
“We asked him to do more and he was unprepared to do that,” Pompeo said. Progress had been made over the past 36 hours, the top American diplomat said, however the complex discussions would take time.
Throughout the day, Trump had indicated there was “no rush”, suggesting that talks behind the scenes were not as far advanced as some may assume.
The dining room at the Metropole hotel was left empty and waiting for the delegations from the two countries when reporters were told that the programme had changed. Chairman Kim returned to his hotel and President Trump headed for a solo press conference at the Marriott.
A statement from the US Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the leaders were unable to reach an agreement, but talks had been fruitful and constructive steps had been made.
Despite smiles and handshakes earlier in the day and on Wednesday, Trump and Kim departed Hà Nội disappointed without a solid agreement on denuclearisation.
“We know where the limits are, where some of the challenges are,” Pompeo said they remain optimistic.
In his solo press conference, Trump said he was willing to walk away from negotiations after Kim refused to meet the United States on their demands. According to the president, the sticking point with Kim “was about the sanctions”.
“Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that. They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas we wanted but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that. We’ll continue to work and we’ll see but we have to walk away from that particular suggestion. We had to walk away from that.”
Current sanctions will remain “in place”, the president said.
The United States, wanting further commitments on denuclearisation, refused the demands and thus brought to an end the highly-anticipated summit in Việt Nam.
The two leaders were happy with progress, “but couldn’t quite get along the line any further to make a bigger deal.”
Despite the impasse, Trump heaped praise on the DPRK leader, calling him a “great guy” and lauding their continuing relationship.
“We haven’t given up anything, and, frankly, I think we’ll end up very good friends with Chairman Kim and North Korea,” Trump said.
Clearly, the friendship between the two continues to promise progress in the future. Over their short time in the capital and dinner together, Trump said the language had been friendly but tough.
Much of Trump’s press conference hinged on his personal relationship with the Chairman.
Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remained confident that a deal could be made in the future.
Although their time in Hà Nội ends without concrete progress on negotiation, Trump left the door open to a future summit, although he wouldn’t be drawn on any specific commitments. Trump said he hoped another round of talks could happen soon.
The president affirmed that they would rather walk away from the table now and get a good deal at a future point.
After taking a number of press questions the US president departed the Marriott hotel in Hà Nội to Nội Bài Airport, concluding his summit and heading back home.
Meanwhile, Chairman Kim is still in Hà Nội and will tomorrow begin his official visit to Việt Nam. — VNS