The much-awaited second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un ended abruptly Thursday, with no agreement reached. The meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam followed the June summit in Singapore in which the leaders of the two states met for the first time and signed a joint statement that greatly de-escalated tensions in the region. However, the Hanoi summit’s outcome – or lack thereof – has raised question marks over the denuclearization process on the Korean Peninsula.
Following a dinner meeting on Wednesday, Trump and Kim started substantial conversations Thursday morning. However, it was quickly announced that the working lunch, and in fact, the entire summit, had been halted. Trump suggested that there was a major expectations gap between the two sides. Kim had offered to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear test site in exchange for the dismantling of international sanctions, while the U.S. wanted Yongbyon and other sites dismantled before lifting the sanctions. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said, without specifying details, that the U.S. had asked North Korea to “do more,” but North Korea rejected these additional demands. Trump emphasized that the end of the talks did not mean a breakdown of ties with Pyongyang and said that Kim had assured him that he would not have “anything to do with nuclear activities.” Trump left immediately for the U.S. in the afternoon, while Kim will stay in Vietnam until Saturday for an official visit.
After leaving Hanoi, Trump called South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in to reaffirm his commitment to resolving the denuclearization challenge through dialogue and asked Moon to “actively” help mediate between the U.S. and North Korea. It is expected that Moon will meet with Trump in the near future, while Kim is likely to meet with China’s President Xi Jinping on his way back to Pyongyang after the Vietnam visit. For now, the denuclearization process remains halted, with only uncertainties lying ahead.