Trump’s Talks With Kim Jong-un Collapse, and Both Sides Point Fingers


HANOI, Vietnam — The United States and North Korea provided conflicting accounts and traded blame on Thursday after a second summit assembly between President Trump and the North’s chief, Kim Jong-un, ended abruptly with none settlement on nuclear disarmament or easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

“Sometimes you have to walk,” Mr. Trump stated at a day information convention in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.

He stated Mr. Kim had provided to dismantle the North’s most essential nuclear facility if the United States lifted the cruel sanctions imposed on his nation — however wouldn’t decide to do the identical for different components of its weapons program.

That, Mr. Trump stated, was a dealbreaker.

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

But in a late-night information convention, North Korea’s overseas minister, Ri Yong-ho, contradicted Mr. Trump, saying the North had requested just for some sanctions to be lifted in change for “permanently and completely” dismantling the principle facility within the presence of American specialists.

“Given the current level of trust between North Korea and the United States, this was the maximum step for denuclearization we could offer,” Mr. Ri advised reporters.

He added that the North’s place wouldn’t change. “This kind of opportunity may never come again,” he stated.

The untimely finish to the negotiations leaves the bizarre rapprochement between the United States and North Korea that has unfolded for many of a 12 months at a impasse, with the North retaining each its nuclear arsenal and services believed to be producing further fissile materials for warheads.

It additionally represents a significant setback at a tough political second for Mr. Trump, who has lengthy introduced himself as a troublesome negotiator able to bringing adversaries right into a deal and had made North Korea the signature diplomatic initiative of his presidency.

Even because the talks started, Mr. Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, was delivering dramatic and damaging testimony in Congress, accusing him of an expansive pattern of lies and criminality.

Mr. Trump had flown across the world to try to work face-to-face with Mr. Kim for the second time, an effort to reduce what American officials regard as the world’s foremost nuclear threats. Experts estimate that the North has 30 to 60 nuclear warheads as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles that can hit the United States, though it has not demonstrated the technology to protect warheads as they re-enter the atmosphere.

Before ending the news conference to fly back to Washington, Mr. Trump tried to put a good face on the outcome. “This wasn’t a walkaway like you get up and walk out,” he said. “No, this was very friendly. We shook hands.”

“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. Mr. Ri confirmed the North would not resume testing.

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.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency struck a more conciliatory tone than its foreign minister, reporting that Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump “agreed to keep in close touch with each other” and “continue productive dialogues.”

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, though 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 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” during “very good and constructive meetings,” but 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?”

“This result leaves very little room for Kim to save face,” she added.

Officials from both sides had hoped the Hanoi summit meeting would produce more concrete results than the vague communiqué issued by the two leaders after their first meeting last June in Singapore.

Since that first encounter, American national security officials have said that denuclearization should be the priority, while North Korea has pushed for lifting of sanctions and improving relations with the United States and South Korea first.

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. Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim began the day with a one-on-one meeting at the historic Metropole hotel, where they dined together the night before.

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

“I’ve been saying very much from the beginning that speed is not that important to me,” he said.

Mr. Trump also mentioned potential economic growth in North Korea three times in his brief morning comments, saying that the country would become an “economic powerhouse.”

The message seemed clear — that integrating North Korea into the global economy would help moderate the country’s behavior. Mr. Trump appeared ready to accept the North’s arsenal if relations improved and it committed to surrendering weapons in the long term.



Source link Nytimes.com

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