White House: Trump, Kim sum­mit ends with­out reach­ing a deal

Sun.Star Pampanga - - WORLD! - (AP)

HANOI, Viet­nam — Pres­i­dent Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un abruptly cut short their sec­ond sum­mit Thurs­day with­out reach­ing an agree­ment, a stun­ning col­lapse of talks that caused both lead­ers to leave their Viet­nam meet­ing early and can­cel a planned sign­ing cer­e­mony.

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Sanders said the lead­ers had a “very good and con­struc­tive meet­ing” and dis­cussed ways to ad­vance de­nu­cle­ariza­tion and eco­nomic driven con­cepts.” She said their teams looked for­ward to meet­ing “in the fu­ture,” but of­fered no spe­cific time frame.

Both lead­ers mo­tor­cades roared away from the down­town Hanoi sum­mit site within min­utes of each other af­ter both a lunch and the sign­ing cer­e­mony were scut­tled. Trump’s end-of-sum­mit news con­fer­ence was moved up and White House aides said he would ad­dress the sud­den change in plans.

The break­down came just hours af­ter Trump and Kim ap­peared to inch to­ward nor­mal­iz­ing re­la­tions be­tween their still tech­ni­cally-war­ring na­tions as the Amer­i­can leader tamped down ex­pec­ta­tions that their talks would yield an agree­ment by the reclu­sive coun­try to take con­crete steps to­ward end­ing its nu­clear pro­gram.

In some­thing of a role re­ver­sal, Trump de­lib­er­ately ratch­eted down some of the pres­sure on Py­ongyang, aban­don­ing his fiery rhetoric and declar­ing he was in “no rush. We just want to do the right deal.”

Kim, for his part, when asked whether he was ready to de­nu­cle­arize, said “If I’m not will­ing to do that I won’t be here right now.”

Fur­ther­ing the spirit of op­ti­mism, the lead­ers had seemed to find a point of agree­ment mo­ments later when Kim was asked if the U.S. may open a li­ai­son of­fice in North Korea. Trump de­clared it “not a bad idea” and Kim called it “wel­comable.” Such an of­fice would mark the first U.S. pres­ence in North Korea.

But ques­tions per­sisted through­out the sum­mit, in­clud­ing whether Kim was will­ing to make valu­able con­ces­sions, what Trump would de­mand in the face of ris­ing do­mes­tic tur­moil and whether the meet­ing could yield far more con­crete re­sults than the lead­ers’ first sum­mit, a meet­ing in Sin­ga­pore less than a year ago that was long on dra­matic im­agery but short on tan­gi­ble re­sults.

There had long been skep­ti­cism that Kim would be will­ing to give away the weapons his na­tion had spent decades de­vel­op­ing and Py­ongyang felt en­sured its sur­vival.

Trump had sig­naled a will­ing­ness to go slow: In a sharp break from his rhetoric a year ago, when he painted the threat from Py­ongyang as so grave that “fire and fury” may need to be rained down on North Korea, Trump made clear he was will­ing to ac­cept a more de­lib­er­ate timetable for de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.

“I can’t speak nec­es­sar­ily for to­day, Trump said, “but...over a pe­riod of time I know we’re go­ing to have a fan­tas­tic suc­cess with re­spect to Chair­man Kim and North Korea.”

In an un­ex­pected de­vel­op­ment, Kim on Thurs­day fielded ques­tions from Western jour­nal­ists for likely the first time, with the reporters re­ceiv­ing some coach­ing from the U.S. pres­i­dent, who im­plored, “Don’t raise your voice, please. This isn’t like deal­ing with Trump.” The North Korean leader struck a largely hope­ful note, say­ing “I be­lieve by in­tu­ition that good re­sults will be pro­duced.”

Af­ter a re­porter asked Kim if they were dis­cussing hu­man rights, Trump in­ter­jected to say they were “dis­cussing ev­ery­thing” though he did not specif­i­cally ad­dress the is­sue.

Ear­lier, ac­com­pa­nied only by trans­la­tors, the un­likely pair — a 72-year-old brash bil­lion­aire and a 35year-old reclu­sive au­to­crat — dis­played a fa­mil­iar­ity with one an­other as they be­gan the day’s ne­go­ti­a­tions. Af­ter a 40-minute pri­vate meet­ing, the lead­ers went for a stroll on the Ho­tel Metropole’s lush grounds, chat­ting as they walked by a swim­ming pool be­fore be­ing joined by aides to con­tinue talks.

“The re­la­tion­ship is just very strong and when you have a good re­la­tion­ship a lot of good things hap­pen,” said Trump. He added that “a lot of great ideas were be­ing thrown about” at their op­u­lent din­ner the night be­fore. He of­fered no specifics.

“I be­lieve that start­ing from yes­ter­day, the whole world is look­ing at this spot right now,” Kim said via his trans­la­tor. “I’m sure that all of them will be watch­ing the mo­ment that we are sit­ting to­gether side by side as if they are watch­ing a fan­tasy movie.”

Pos­si­ble out­comes that had been con­sid­ered were a peace dec­la­ra­tion for the Korean War that the North could use to even­tu­ally push for the re­duc­tion of U.S. troops in South Korea, or sanc­tions re­lief that could al­low Py­ongyang to pur­sue lu­cra­tive eco­nomic projects with the South.

Even be­fore the sum­mit fell apart, it un­folded against a back­drop of tu­mult and in­ves­ti­ga­tions at home.

Hours be­fore he sat down again with Kim, Trump’s for­mer per­sonal at­tor­ney, Michael Co­hen, de­liv­ered ex­plo­sive con­gres­sional tes­ti­mony claim­ing the pres­i­dent is a “conman” who lied about his busi­ness in­ter­ests with Rus­sia. Trump, un­able to ig­nore the drama play­ing out thou­sands of miles away, tweeted that Co­hen “did bad things un­re­lated to Trump” and “is ly­ing in or­der to re­duce his prison time.” Co­hen has been sen­tenced to three years in prison for ly­ing to Congress.

Kim, mean­while, has emerged with con­fi­dence on the world stage over the last year, re­peat­edly step­ping out diplo­mat­i­cally with South Korean, Chi­nese and U.S. lead­ers.

But ex­perts worry that the darker side of Kim’s lead­er­ship is be­ing brushed aside in the rush to ad­dress the North’s nu­clear weapons pro­gram: the charges of mas­sive hu­man rights abuses; the prison camps filled with dis­si­dents; a near com­plete ab­sence of me­dia, re­li­gious and speech free­doms; the famine in the 1990s that killed hun­dreds of thou­sands; and the ex­e­cu­tions of a slew of govern­ment and mil­i­tary of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing his un­cle and the al­leged as­sas­si­na­tion or­der of his half-brother in a Malaysian air­port.

North Korea is a fiercely proud na­tion that has built a nu­clear pro­gram de­spite decades of some of the world’s harsh­est sanc­tions, but ex­treme poverty and po­lit­i­cal re­pres­sion has caused tens of thou­sands to flee, mostly to South Korea. Af­ter their first sum­mit, where Trump and Kim signed a joint state­ment agree­ing to work to­ward a de­nu­cle­arized Korean Penin­sula, the pres­i­dent pre­ma­turely de­clared vic­tory, tweet­ing that “There is no longer a Nu­clear Threat from North Korea.”

The facts did not then, and still do not now, sup­port that claim.

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