The Vietnam summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un ended with no deal Thursday after Kim insisted that the U.S. lifts all sanctions on his regime.
But for President Trump that appeared to be too great a demand, especially considering that the North Korean offered to dismantle only part of the country’s nuclear arsenal, but not enough for the sanctions to be eliminated.
“Sometimes you have to walk. This was just one of those times,” said Trump during a news conference after the premature ending of the summit.
However, this should not come as a surprise since from the very beginning, President Trump stressed that he was in no hurry to reach a deal with Pyongyang.
“I’ve been saying very much from the beginning that speed is not that important to me,” Trump said earlier Thursday at the summit’s outset. “Speed is not important to me. What is important is that we do the right deal.”
Trump also sought to present the lack of agreement as a mere short-term disappointment, indicating that the inconclusive talks with Kim were another step in a long process toward convincing the North Korean leader to abandon his nuclear program.
The summit did, however, conclude on friendly terms and the amicable relations between the two leaders stayed unchanged.
Trump acknowledged there is still a discrepancy in how the two sides define denuclearization, saying that Kim “has a certain vision and it’s not exactly our vision, but it’s a lot closer than it was a year ago and I think eventually we’ll get there.”
He also said Kim was focused on having U.S. sanctions on his country lifted, offering in return to begin dismantling the Yongbyon nuclear facility. Although a major concession, it was far from enough as North Korea has a number of other sites that are part of its deeply secretive nuclear program.
“We asked him to do more and he was unprepared to do that,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who joined Trump on stage for the duration of the news conference.
The two leaders also discussed the idea of opening a liaison office in Pyongyang, which both deemed a good idea, but after the summit broke up, the prospects of that also diminished.