The much-anticipated meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un in Vietnam failed to meet the brouhaha.
Sometimes you have to walk,” Trump told reporters after two days of meeting with Kim, but he said he hoped that US and North Korean negotiators would keep talking.
He said Kim had offered to dismantle the North Korea’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, Trump said, was a dealbreaker.
“It was about the sanctions,” Trump said. “Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but we couldn’t do that.”
But in a late-night news conference, North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, contradicted Trump, saying the North had asked only for some sanctions to be lifted in exchange for “permanently and completely” dismantling the main facility in the presence of American experts.
“Given the current level of trust between North Korea and the United States, this was the maximum step for denuclearization we could offer,” Ri told reporters.
He added that the North’s position would not change. “This kind of opportunity may never come again,” he said.
However, Trump continued to praise Kim, calling him “quite a guy and quite a character,” and saying that there still was a lot of “warmth” in his relationship with a man many regard as a brutal dictator.
Trump also maintained that all was not lost. “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.
Trump said that 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. Ri also confirmed the North Korea would not resume testing.