The nuclear summit between the US President, Donald Trump, and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, in Hanoi ended abruptly on Thursday as they cut short their discussions and failed to reach an agreement.
The second meeting between the two was supposed to build on their historic first summit in Singapore but they failed to bridge their differences and did not sign a joint statement, as initially scheduled.
“'Sometimes you have to walk and this was just one of those times,' Mr. Trump said. Mr. Trump said that the sanctions imposed on Pyongyang over its nuclear programme had been the sticking point.
'Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that,' he said. But he insisted he was 'optimistic that the progress we made' before and at the summit left them 'in position to have a really good outcome' in the future.
'I’d much rather do it right than do it fast,' he added. The outcome fell far short of the pre-meeting expectations and hopes, after critics said their initial historic meeting in Singapore was more style over substance.
'This is a major failure,' tweeted Mr. Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund peace foundation. It showed the limit of summitry, he added, with 'not enough time or staff' to work out a deal.
In the original White House programme, a 'Joint Agreement Signing Ceremony' had been scheduled in Hanoi as well as a working lunch for the two leaders. In the event, both men left the summit venue without signing anything and Mr. Trump moved up his news conference by two hours. Mr. Trump flew around the world for the meeting and Mr. Kim undertook a mammoth two-and-a-half-day trek through China in his olive green train, travelling 4,000 km.
At first the smiles and bonhomie from Singapore ran on into their second date in Hanoi as Mr. Trump touted the 'special relationship' between the two, although concrete statements were vague. The US president frequently dangled the prospect of a brighter economic future for a nuclear-free North Korea, at one point saying there was 'AWESOME' potential.
From the outset, he had appeared to downplay expectations of an immediate breakthrough in nuclear talks, saying he was in 'no rush' to clinch a rapid deal and was content if a pause in missile testing continued. In Singapore the two signed a vague document in which Mr. Kim pledged to 'work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula'.
Progress subsequently stalled with the two sides disagreeing on what that means, as the North sought relief from sanctions and Washington pressed for concrete steps towards it giving up its weapons.
As in Singapore, the two men put on a show of bonhomie in Vietnam, appearing to share jokes in front of reporters. Looking relaxed but appearing to say little, they indulged in a poolside stroll Thursday around the gardens of the luxury Metropole Hotel, a colonial-era building that has played host to stars ranging from Charlie Chaplin to Brad Pitt.
It echoed a garden walkabout in Singapore, where the two men bonded over Mr. Trump’s hulking car -- the 'Beast' -- with the US President allowing the younger man a glimpse inside.
It was a far cry from the height of missile-testing tensions in 2017 when Mr. Trump slammed Mr. Kim as 'rocket man' and the younger man branded the American president a 'mentally deranged US dotard'.
In apparently unprecedented scenes, Mr. Kim answered unscripted questions from foreign reporters, saying that he would welcome the establishment of a US liaison office in Pyongyang, which would be a step on the way to diplomatic normalisation.
Before the summit, there was talk that there could be a political declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War which finished technically with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.