White House

No deal: Trump says he ‘had to walk away’ over impasse with Kim on sanctions

White House signals denuclearization talks with North Korea will continue

South Koreans at Seoul Railway Station watch a screen showing President Donald Trump meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to reach a nuclear disarmament deal due to an impasse over sanctions on the reclusive Asian country.

“Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but we couldn’t do that,” Trump told reporters in Hanoi. “We had to walk away from it.” (The president wrote in his book “The Art of the Deal” that one must know when to leave negotiations, saying exiting can bring the other side back to the table with more favorable terms.)

“We made real progress,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said of the summit at a news conference with Trump. Unfortunately, we didn’t get all of the way. ... We asked [Kim] to do more. He was unprepared to do that.”

Trump said Kim was “willing to denuke a large portion of the areas we want, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that.”

One of the hurdles in the talks is coming up with a shared definition of “denuclearization.” Trump said progress was made on that front, noting Kim has a “vision” that is different from his but closer than a year ago.

Kim was willing to dismantle his Yongbyon nuclear research center but wanted all sanctions lifted before he began that work, Trump said, noting he was unwilling to trade all sanctions for that.

The president criticized media coverage of his talks with North Korea, saying, “We haven’t given up anything,” noting all existing sanctions remain in place.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she expects the two sides will continue negotiations.

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Trump signaled earlier in the day that their second summit was unlikely to yield a final deal.

“I’m sure over the years we’ll be together a lot, and I think we’ll also be together after the fact, meaning after the deal is made,” he told reporters during a photo opportunity at the start of the summit’s only full day of talks, which were cut short over the sanctions impasse.

Kim assured Trump during a Wednesday dinner that he will continue holding off on nuclear arms and missile tests. “I take him at his word. I hope that that’s true,” the president said.

As he has for months, Trump lauded the relationship he and Kim have developed, saying again he believes that — more than any other factor — is what will eventually lead to a deal.

“I think very importantly, the relationship is, you know, just very strong, and when you have a good relationship, a lot of good things happen,” Trump said. “So, I can’t speak necessarily for today, but I can say that this, a little bit longer term, and over a period of time, I know we’re going to have a fantastic success with respect to Chairman Kim and North Korea.”

When pressed on timing for a final agreement, Trump said “no rush” three times.

“We just want to do the right deal. Chairman Kim and myself, we want to do the right deal,” he said. “Speed is not important. What’s important is that we do the right deal.”

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In a rarity, the North Korean leader responded to an American reporter’s question about his confidence level in an eventual pact.

“Well, it’s too early to tell, but I wouldn’t say that I’m pessimistic,” Kim said through a translator. “From what I feel right now, I do have a feeling that good results will come out.”

The Hanoi summit was cut short by a couple hours, and a planned agreement signing ceremony like one Trump and Kim had in June in Singapore was scrapped. But White House aides signaled the two sides will continue negotiations.

“The two leaders discussed various ways to advance denuclearization and economic driven concepts,” Sanders said in a statement. “No agreement was reached at this time, but their respective teams look forward to meeting in the future.”

She posted a photo of a smiling Kim (Trump’s back is facing the camera) on her Instagram account with this caption as the White House is eager to portray the president: “President Trump says goodbye to Chairman Kim at close of #HanoiSummit. Wheels up for DC! #POTUS #Trump #Vietnam.”

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