Thursday, 28 February 2019

Summit collapse clouds future of U.S.-North Korea nuclear diplomacy - Jeff Mason, Hyonhee Shin

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HANOI (Reuters) - A second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed on Thursday over sanctions, and the two sides gave conflicting accounts of what happened, raising questions about the future of their denuclearisation negotiations.

Trump said two days of talks in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi had made good progress in building relations and on the main issue of denuclearisation, but it was important not to rush into a bad deal. He said he had walked away because of unacceptable North Korean demands.
“It was all about the sanctions,” Trump told a news conference after the talks were cut short. “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that.”
However, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told a news conference past midnight and hours after Trump left Hanoi that North Korea had sought only a partial lifting of sanctions “related to people’s livelihoods and unrelated to military sanctions”.
He said it had offered a realistic proposal involving the dismantling of all of its main nuclear site at Yongbyon, including plutonium and uranium facilities, by engineers from both countries.“This is the biggest denuclearisation step we can take based on the current level of trust between the two countries,” Ri said in a rare exchange between North Korean officials and reporters.
“It’s hard to say there will be something better than what we offered. We may not have such an opportunity again. We need such a first step on the road to complete denuclearisation. Our fundamental stance will never change and even if U.S. seeks further talks, our position won’t change,” Ri said.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told the same briefing she had the impression that Kim “might lose his willingness to pursue a deal” after the U.S. side rejected a partial lifting of sanctions in return for destruction of Yongbyon, “something we had never offered before”.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, asked about North Korea’s statements, said the president was aware of the comments and the White House had nothing to add to what Trump said at the Hanoi news conference.
Trump spoke to the leaders of South Korea and Japan on his way back from Hanoi and told them that the United States would continue to work with them and talk to North Korea, Sanders said.
Trump on no deal with North Korea: 'Sometimes you have to walk'

Trump cuts short North Korea summit after dispute over sanctions: 'Sometimes you have to walk"
President Trump abruptly walked away from talks with Kim Jong-un in Hanoi on Thursday, saying that the North Korean leader wanted all sanctions lifted in return for giving up only some of his nukes, which he could not agree to. Trump continued to tout his 'warm' relationship with Kim and said he sees 'great potential' in North Korea, but added that 'sometimes you have to be willing to walk away from a deal.' Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added that the two leaders had made progress towards a deal to minimize the risk coming from North Korea, 'but we didn't get all the way.' The two leaders had been scheduled to have lunch and attend a signing ceremony later on Thursday, but those plans were abruptly cancelled.