US President Donald Trump has blamed a disagreement with Kim Jong-un over the lifting of sanctions on North Korea for an early end to bilateral talks in Vietnam.
Mr Trump said that Mr Kim had offered to dismantle some parts of Pyongyang’s nuclear infrastructure but not its covert uranium plants in return for an end to all US economic sanctions on North Korea.
‘It was about the sanctions basically,’ Mr Trump said at a press conference in Hanoi. ‘They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that.
‘It was a very interesting two days and I think actually it was a very productive two days but sometimes you have to walk and this was just one of those times.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told reporters that the country offered to permanently halt long-range rocket tests, as well as nuclear tests, in exchange for the lifting of five United Nations sanctions.
That would still leave a number of sanctions against the country in place.
North Korea claims they’d be willing to dismantle all nuclear facilities if sanctions lifted
Earlier in the day, Trump had told reporters that “it was all about the sanctions.”
“Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that,” Trump said before leaving Hanoi.
Ri also told reporters that the U.S. demanded “one more measure” beyond dismantlement of the Yongbyon nuclear facility in North Korea, but didn’t specify what they asked for.
“This is the biggest denuclearization step we can take based on the current level of trust between the two countries,” Ri said in a rare exchange between a North Korean official and reporters.
“In fact, as we take steps toward denuclearization, the most important issue is security but we thought it would be more burdensome for the United States to take military-related measures, which is why we saw partial lifting of sanctions as corresponding action.”
North Korea’s position would not change, even if Washington proposed further talks, Ri said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said talks between the two countries would continue, but wouldn’t comment on Ri’s statement.
Lindsey Graham says Trump told him he won’t relieve North Korea of sanctions for partial deal
The collapse of the talks raised questions about the Trump administration’s preparations and about what some critics see as his cavalier style of personal diplomacy.
Since their first summit in Singapore in June, Trump has stressed his good chemistry with Kim, but there have been doubts about whether the bonhomie could move them beyond summit pageantry to substantive progress on eliminating a North Korean nuclear arsenal that threatens the United States.
Things had appeared more promising when the leaders met on Wednesday, predicting successful talks before a social dinner with top aides.
But the talks fell apart before a planned lunch and a scheduled “signing ceremony.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he backed Trump’s decision over sanctions, and wanted his own meeting with Kim.
*with files from Reuters
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