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Trump-Kim Summit in Hanoi Collapses After Negotiations Fail
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=285"><span class="small">Julian Borger, Guardian UK</span></a>   
Thursday, 28 February 2019 09:15

Borger writes: "The second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un ended in failure on Thursday with the two sides far apart on the central issues of disarmament and sanctions relief."

Trump's team met with Kim Jung-un in Hanoi, Vietnam. (photo: Getty)
Trump's team met with Kim Jung-un in Hanoi, Vietnam. (photo: Getty)

Trump-Kim Summit in Hanoi Collapses After Negotiations Fail

By Julian Borger, Guardian UK

28 February 19

US president says North Korea wanted all sanctions lifted for only partial denuclearisation

he second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un ended in failure on Thursday with the two sides far apart on the central issues of disarmament and sanctions relief.

The abrupt end to the Hanoi meeting, which was cut short by several hours, was a setback from both leaders who had made long journeys – Kim by rail and Trump by air – in the expectation that a deal was within reach. There are no plans for a third summit, but the US has expressed willingness to continue talks at a lower level.

The collapse of the two leaders’ talks came suddenly. Late on Wednesday night the White House circulated detailed plans for negotiating sessions, a working lunch and a signing ceremony for a joint agreement. When the two leaders reconvened on Thursday morning, however, they appeared sombre and cautious about whether a deal was possible.

A few hours later, the summit was called off. The signing ceremony was cancelled and the official lunch left uneaten. Table settings and name cards went unused in the empty dining hall of the Metropole Hotel, the summit venue, as the leaders made their way back to their own hotels.

In his version of events, Trump said the deal broke down because Kim wanted complete sanctions relief for dismantling the main nuclear complex at Yongbyon, but the US wanted other nuclear facilities, including covert sites, disabled as well.

“It was about the sanctions basically,” Trump said at a press conference in Hanoi. “They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that ... Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times.”

“There is a gap. We have to have sanctions,” he said. “There is a gap. We have to have sanctions and he wants to denuke. But he wants to just do areas that are less important than the areas that we want.”

Trump made clear that the status quo will continue, with North Korea continuing to suspend nuclear and missile tests, while the US will not take part in joint military exercises with South Korea, which the US president is opposed to anyway.

“I gave that up quite a while ago because it costs us $100m to do it. I hated to see it. I thought it was unfair,” Trump said, adding that South Korea should shoulder more of the costs. “Exercising is fun and it’s nice they play their war games. I’m not saying its not necessary. On some levels it is. On other levels it’s not.”

Trump remained protective of the North Korean leader and the relationship between the two men. “We spent all day with Kim Jong-un,” he said. “He’s quite a guy and quite a character. And our relationship is very strong.”

He even defended Kim over the death of the US student Otto Warmbier, who was sent home from North Korea seriously ill in June 2017. “He says he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word,” he said.

Trump gave the most detailed public account to date of the central disagreements that have dogged the negotiations. He confirmed that the US side had confronted Pyongyang with US intelligence about covert nuclear facilities outside Yongbyon and demanded they be put on the negotiating table.

“We know the country very well, every inch of that country,” he said, adding that Yongbyon, “while very big, wasn’t enough”.

“We had to have more than that, because there were other things that we haven’t talked about, that we found, that we found a long time ago, but people didn’t know about,” he went on, making clear that one of the sites he was talking about was a second covert uranium enrichment programme. “We brought many points up that I think they were surprised that we knew.”

He said relaxing all sanctions in return for Yongbyon would been meant giving up leverage “that has taken so long to build.” .

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said the breakdown of talks was partly caused by differences over the sequences of nuclear disarmament and sanctions relief. The US wanted North Korea to put its current arsenal, thought to consist of several dozen warheads, some mounted on missiles, on the negotiating table as well, he said.

Trump flew out of Hanoi in the late afternoon, while Kim stayed in the city for talks with the Vietnamese leadership and will make the 70-hour car and train journey back to Pyongyang at the weekend. It was unclear whether he would stop in Beijing to meet the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

Trump said he would call his regional allies, the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, as soon as he boarded Air Force One.

The breakdown of the summit is a political disaster for Moon, who had been counting on progress that would lift international sanctions restricting trade and investment between North and South Korea.

A South Korean diplomat said Seoul was stunned by the result. “It was shock. We are trying to figure out what happened,” the diplomat said. “We need to watch what happened behind the scenes.”

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Last Updated on Thursday, 28 February 2019 10:30


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-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-02-28 11:04
I don't see this as a bad thing at all. N. Korea must insist on a reduction or removal of sanctions. That's what is killing N. Koreans. But this is a very big concession for the US to make. It is, in fact, enhancing sanctions all over the world. The US has become sanctions mad.

But Kim and Trump are still talking and they keep the momentum going. Trump said he's in it for the long haul and time is not crucial. This gives the real players -- N. Korea, S. Korea, and China -- the opening they need to keep working on their own solutions. The US is really only an outsider with no stake in the region.

All in all, this summit and the last one were the high points of the Trump regime. Now back to the low point -- the assault on Venezuela.
+1 # jwb110 2019-02-28 11:05
I don't believe for one minute that the excuse that Trump and Pompeo used for this breakdown in negotiations has a word of truth in it. Only fake news comes from the White House.
+3 # Anne Frank 2019-02-28 11:21
Why couldn't the two sides agree on the obviously fair solution? U.S. should lift sanctions on North Korea and N.K. should lift sanctions on U.S.; and N.K. should stop producing and dismantle all its nuclear weapons and U.S. should stop producing and dismantle all its nuclear weapons.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-02-28 18:12
AF -- just take a look at the photos and you will see why. Trump is flanked by Pompeo and Bolton. They were not going to allow any agreement to be reached. You say "fair solution," but Pompeo and Bolton would not know fair it is bit them on the ass. They are the problem, not Trump and Kim.
+1 # tedrey 2019-02-28 11:36
I predicted this 8 months ago and explained why. I quote myself from RSN 8 months ago:

+8 # tedrey 2018-07-08 19:02

Pompeo and Bolton incessantly present the North Koreans as agreeing to goals and methods to which they have never shown any sign of agreeing.

They have claimed, with no hint from either N. or S. Korea of the truth of their statements, that NK has agreed to: elimination of all missiles as well as bombs; elimination of all biological and chemical as well as nuclear stocks; all sanctions to be applied until *all* conditions are completed; "all North Korea" that is to be denuclearized, ignoring "the Korean peninsula" on which NK *always* insists (Pompeo, yesterday); that it will not be international observers but *Americans* on-the-ground who will monitor and confirm that all terms have been fulfilled (Bolton, yesterday.)

They also mention nothing whatsoever that America will agree to actually perform until after all this has been performed by North Korea. How is this different from demanding the total and irreversible surrender of North Korea?

to be continued
+2 # tedrey 2019-02-28 11:38
+6 # tedrey 2018-07-08 19:09

When NK says they never agreed to any of these arrangements, they will be telling the truth, but the Trump gang will accuse them of reneging on the "agreement." and talks will end.

This is actually the intended plan.

Pompeo and Bolton have two negotiating goals. One, to blow up the talks with NK and make them fail, and two, to make Americans, if no one else, blame the North Koreans for the failure. (Trump Americans will believe any nonsense if repeated enough.) Thus we will return to the "threatening" North Korea that the military needs to point to in order to hoover up the billions it wants to satisfy its voracious appetite.

The rest of the world will probably see through this.

+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-02-28 18:14
Ted -- yes, you got it right. These two neo-con mother fuckers stacked the deck. No wonder everyone lost. Oh, and the media helped them in the stacking.
+2 # video4315 2019-02-28 13:25
Trump is a disaster in world diplomacy and a disaster in domestic policies. The sooner we get him out of the White House, the sooner the world can begin to heal.
+1 # DongiC 2019-02-28 23:48
We have to get rid of Bolton, Pompeio, and Elliott Abrams also.