Hanoi: The US-North Korea nuclear summit in Hanoi ended abruptly without a deal on Thursday, with President Donald Trump saying he had decided to “walk” in the face of Kim Jong Un's demands to drop sanctions.
The much-anticipated second meeting between the two leaders was supposed to build on their historic first summit in Singapore, but they failed to sign a joint statement as initially scheduled and the talks ended in deadlock.
“Sometimes you have to walk and this was just one of those times,” an unusually downbeat Trump told reporters.
“Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn't do that,” Trump said before leaving Vietnam aboard Air Force One to head back to Washington.
But Trump insisted he was “optimistic that the progress we made” before and during the summit left them “in position to have a really good outcome” in the future. “I'd much rather do it right than do it fast,” he added.
He noted Kim had vowed not to resume nuclear or ballistic missile testing – something he previously identified as a yardstick for success – and reiterated their “close relationship”.
“We just like each other... there's a warmth that we have and I hope that stays, I think it will,” he said.
The outcome in Hanoi fell far short of the pre-meeting expectations and hopes, after critics said their initial historic meeting in Singapore was more style over substance.
The leaders walked away with no set plans for a third meeting, though Trump said he hopes to see Kim again soon.
Ankit Panda, from the Federation of American Scientists, warned on Twitter that the White House's expectation of further talks “does not have to be a perception shared in North Korea”.
“Kim may have left irate, for all we know. He may have no intention of continuing this,” added Panda. In the original White House programme, a “Joint Agreement Signing Ceremony” had been scheduled in Hanoi and a working lunch for the leaders.
Instead both men left the summit venue without signing anything and Trump moved up his news conference by two hours.
“This is a major failure,” tweeted Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund peace foundation, saying it showed the limit of summitry, with “not enough time or staff” to work out a deal.
Trump flew around the world for the meeting and Kim undertook a mammoth two-and-a-half-day trek through China in his olive green train, travelling 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles). Kim will stay on in Vietnam for a state visit, which will include a wreath-laying ceremony at the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, before his expected departure Saturday.
The US president, who touted his “special relationship” with Kim, frequently dangled the prospect of a brighter economic future for a nuclear-free North Korea, at one point saying there was “AWESOME” potential.
In Singapore Kim and Trump signed a vague document in which Kim pledged to “work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”....