The Vietnam summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was cut short as the two countries failed to reach an agreement.
“President Donald J. Trump of the United States and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had very good and constructive meetings in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 27-28, 2019,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “The two leaders discussed various ways to advance denuclearization and economic driven concepts. No agreement was reached at this time, but their respective teams look forward to meeting in the future.”
An hour of confusion ensued before that statement. As reporters were waiting for a lunch between the two delegations to take place, Sanders said the expanded bilateral meeting would soon wrap up and Mr. Trump would then head back to his hotel. The president was supposed to take part in a signing ceremony with Kim, although Sanders wouldn’t clarify whether that, too, is canceled.
The press conference Mr. Trump was scheduled to have shortly before 4 p.m. local time, 4 a.m. Eastern, has been moved up to 2 p.m. local time or 2 a.m. Eastern.
The White House hasn’t explained what happened. Earlier in the day, both Mr. Trump and Kim expressed cautious optimism on reaching an agreement, and urged patience.
“I’ve been saying very much from the beginning that speed is not that important to me,” the president said as he sat down with Kim. “I very much appreciate no testing of nuclear rockets, missiles, any of it. Very much appreciate it.”
The real shock came when Kim took multiple questions from American reporters, something unprecedented. Asked if he is willing and ready to denuclearize, Kim responded through a translator, “If I’m not willing to do that I wouldn’t be here right now.”