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Vietnam summit: North Korea and US offer differing reasons for failure of talks

Vietnam summit: North Korea and US offer differing reasons for failure of talks

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The summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, finished earlier than expected, with the abrupt end to the Hanoi meeting, which was cut short by several hours. After an initial show of optimism from both leaders, the summit ended with a substantial failure. The US president hailed the start of the work by shaking hands with the North Korean leader calling him "a great leader".

The White House made it clear that the two leaders had "very good and constructive meetings"; an attempt to expand the agreement signed in Singapore on June 12nd, during which both leaders agreed to work together for the transformation of relations between Pyongyang and Washington and for the economic advancement of North Korea; this time the main issue on the agenda was the thorny problem of denuclearization of the country.

The choice of Vietnam as the site of the summit was not accidental, having the country diplomatic relations with both the US and North Korea. After the war with the United States, Hanoi undertook a series of economic reforms and a process of modernization that even Pyongyang could follow.  Trump emphasized that the current relationship between the two countries is an example of "what can happen" between Washington and Pyongyang, adding that North Korea has “a wonderful potential”.

What Trump and Kim Jong-un want

North Korea and the US have given differing accounts of why the second summit ended in failure.

Trump will push to build a precise program for the upcoming negotiations, and to have a mapping of the North Korean nuclear arsenal. The United States calls for a "complete, verifiable and irreversible" disarmament before reducing sanctions.

For his part, Kim Jong-un wants to strengthen his power, that’s why it is impossible for him to renounce all nuclear missiles, which are his life insurance; but he also claims an economic development for his country, and this necessarily leads to a reduction in sanctions. In order to obtain it, the hypothesis could be to dismantle the country's principal reactor of Yongbyon. Kim has furthermore confirmed his intention to suspend missile tests, de facto already in pause since the end of 2017, but also to stopthe production of nuclear material.

After the working lunch between the two leaders, a joint agreement was expected to be signed. The final declaration could have formally endorsed the end of the Korean war of 1950-1953, never formally proclaimed (there is still an armistice), and that, in the intentions of the US President, it would have led to the establishment of an American representative office in Pyongyang, but suddenly both leaders left the negotiating table in advance.

The fundamental reason why Trump and Kim Jong-un did not come to an agreement is that "basically North Koreawanted all sanctions lifted in their entirety for only partial denuclearization,and we couldn’t do that, said the US President, also highlighting that "relations with Kim Jong-un are strong, but this time we decided not to sign anything", whileNorth Korean foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said Pyongyang had only demanded partial sanctions relief in return for closing Yongbyon. 

Trump reiterated there’s no need to rush on the issue of denuclearization."What matters is to make the right agreement", the President remarked, promising however a "very special" agreement, to which the North Korean leader replied "I think, intuitively, that we can produce good results".The two countries will strive to find an agreement that will gradually lead to the gradual cancellation of sanctions. An exchange of mutual favors, as Trump hopes for a personal success for reasons related to domestic politics, just at the same time when former layer MichaelCohenaccused him of “racism and lies” during a hearing on Capitol Hill.Kim Jong-un, for his part, has every interest in making this gift to the President for economic reasons. For almost a year the Korean peninsula has been free from the tensions of previous years. This is undoubtedly a consequence of the dialogues between Kim and Trump, and considering the past failures of the other presidents, this is undoubtedly a great result.

Conclusion

South Korea found it "regrettable that President Trump and the North Korean leader did not reach a complete agreement on the summit", while admitting that a "significant progress has been made compared to any other point in the past", while from Chinacomes a hope that "dialogue and communications can continue, as both sides showed sincerity".

Kim Jong-un and President Trump promised to meet again despite the outcome of the Hanoi summit, although any date has been set, and both agreed to continue discussing the "significant improvements" of mutual ties by assessing their second summit "a good opportunity" to root trust and strengthen relations, with the commitment of "close contacts for the epochal development of US-North Korea relations".

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