Trump and Kim summit talks break down over sanctions relief

The summit between US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended prematurely after Trump walked away as he refused demands for sanction relief.

No agreement was decided at the talks, which are widely reported to be focused on the subject of denuclearisation of North Korea. When asked why talks had broken down, Trump said it was because Kim wanted “sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that”.

Kim had been willing to dismantle North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex but wanted “all the sanctions” lifted in exchange, something the US was not prepared to do, Trump said.

The original White House programme for the day had planned for a “Joint Agreement Signing Ceremony” as well as a working lunch for the two leaders, but expectations were abruptly dashed with the cancellation of both.

Washington has previously said North Korea must unilaterally give up its all of its nuclear weapons before there could be any sanctions relief, but that condition is known to be a sticking point for the North Koreans.

Trump said the US delegation “had some options and this time we decided not to do any of the options”. He added that he was “optimistic” and said the talks had left the two nations “in position to have a really good outcome” in the future. However, no plans for a third summit have been made.

Despite the lack of an agreement in Hanoi, the second Trump-Kim summit represented a significant and continued shift in the tenor of the relationship between the two nations. In late 2017, both were exchanging threats, with Trump calling Mr Kim “little rocket man” and Kim calling Trump a “mentally deranged dotard”.

Speaking after the talks in Hanoi, Trump said Kim was “quite a guy and quite a character” and described their relationship as “very strong”.

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