Trump’s Talks With Kim Jong-un Collapse Over North Korean Sanctions


HANOI, Vietnam — President Trump and Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, abruptly ended their second summit meeting on Thursday after talks collapsed with the two leaders failing to agree on any steps toward nuclear disarmament or measures to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

“Sometimes you have to walk,” Mr. Trump said at an afternoon news conference in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.

He said Mr. Kim had offered to dismantle the North’s most important nuclear facility if the United States lifted the harsh sanctions imposed on his nation — but would not commit to do the same for other elements of its weapons program. That, Mr. Trump said, was a dealbreaker.

“It was about the sanctions,” Mr. Trump said. “Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but we couldn’t do that.”

The premature end to the negotiations leaves the unusual rapprochement between the United States and North Korea that has unfolded for most of a year at a deadlock, with the North retaining both its nuclear arsenal and facilities believed to be producing additional fissile material for warheads.

It also represents a major setback at a difficult political moment for Mr. Trump, who has long presented himself as a tough negotiator capable of bringing adversaries into a deal and had made North Korea the signature diplomatic initiative of his presidency.

“There’s a warmth that we have and I hope that stays,” he added.

Mr. Trump said that Mr. Kim had pledged to maintain a halt on nuclear and ballistic missile tests that is now in its 16th month, and that the negotiations would continue.

But further progress could be difficult now that Mr. Trump has broadcast that he and Mr. Kim have staked out conflicting bottom lines.

Both leaders will face greater pressure from hard-line officials in their governments to dig in. For Mr. Trump, facing criminal and civil investigations at home, maintaining public support is a growing concern, while Mr. Kim has long used the nuclear program to justify his government’s totalitarian rule and explain its weak economy.

On his flight leaving Hanoi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said officials had worked through the previous night and into the morning to come up with terms acceptable to both leaders.

But Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo said the North would have to dismantle other parts of its program as well before the United States agreed to such a big concession.

In response to a question, Mr. Trump acknowledged for the first time that his administration was aware of a second enrichment site other than Yongbyon, but it was unclear what role that played in the talks.

The United States has long insisted that sanctions will be lifted only after North Korea completely dismantles its nuclear program in a verifiable manner. There was talk before the summit meeting, though, that Mr. Trump might agree to ease sanctions in exchange for initial steps toward denuclearization by allowing joint economic projects between North and South Korea.

It was not immediately clear if Mr. Trump made such an offer or how Mr. Kim responded.

The collapse of the talks came in the aftermath of withering congressional testimony in Washington by Mr. Cohen. “I think having a fake hearing like that and having it in the middle of this very important summit is really a terrible thing,” Mr. Trump told reporters.

The first sign of the collapse of the talks came after morning meetings, when White House officials said a working lunch and signing ceremony had been canceled.

The White House then issued a statement saying that Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim had “discussed various ways to advance denuclearization and economic-driven concepts,” and that they had had “very good and constructive meetings,” but had failed to reach an agreement.

“I worry about the consequences,” said Jean H. Lee, a Korea expert at the Wilson Center, a research organization in Washington. “Did these two leaders and their teams build up enough good will to keep the lines of communication open, or are we headed into another period of stalled negotiations — or worse, tensions — that would give the North Koreans more time and incentive to keep building their weapons program?”

In Tokyo, Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan, said he had spoken about the summit meeting’s outcome with Mr. Trump. “I fully support President Trump’s decision not to make the easy compromise,” he said, adding that he was determined to meet Mr. Kim next.

The collapse of the talks was a stark departure from the earlier mood of the two-day gathering. On Thursday morning, Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim kicked off the day by meeting one-on-one at the historic Metropole hotel, where they had had an intimate dinner the previous night.

Before the session began, Mr. Trump expressed a willingness to be patient given that the North had suspended missile tests.



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