“Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times,” Trump said at a press conference after his summit on Feb. 28. “Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that.”
Following the 2018 summit in Singapore, Trump and Kim met for the second time on Feb. 27 and 28 in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. Both leaders voiced much optimism at the start of their meeting when they convened for a one-on-one conversation followed by a social dinner on Feb. 27.
“He’s quite a guy and quite a character. And I think our relationship is very strong,” Trump said about Kim at the press conference.
“They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that,” Trump explained. “We had to walk away from that particular suggestion.”
When asked about whether sanctions will remain, Trump said: “We haven’t given up anything.”
In the run-up to the summit, Trump said repeatedly that he was in “no rush” for a deal.
“I could have 100 percent signed something today. We actually had papers ready to be signed, but it just wasn’t appropriate,” Trump said. “I’d much rather do it right than do it fast.”
North Korea has offered to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear reactor but wanted sanctions off first. Trump, however, said dismantling of Yongbyon alone was not enough as they have discovered “plenty” of sites.
“We had to have more than that. We brought many points up that I think they were surprised we knew,” he said, adding that the United States did not want to focus on Yongbyon alone and “give up all the leverage that has taken a long time to build.”
North Korea has about 20 undeclared ballistic missile sites, according to a recent study by Beyond Parallel, a project sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
Trump also said that both sides would continue to work together but did not specify any date for his next summit with the Korean leader.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said despite the outcome both sides made significant progress during the summit.
“Our teams have gotten to know each other better,” he said at the press conference. “We know what some of the limits are and challenges are, and I think in the days and weeks ahead we can make progress so we can ultimately achieve what the world wants.”
Both leaders cut the meeting short without participating in a working lunch. Trump left Hanoi two hours earlier than his planned departure at 6 pm local time.