'Progress' but no deal: Mixed scorecard for Trump & Kim's Hanoi summit

'Progress' but no deal: Mixed scorecard for Trump & Kim's Hanoi summit
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are leaving Hanoi empty-handed after two days of talks. Despite Trump’s talk of “great” prospects for North Korea, no formal deal has been inked. RT sums up the major takeaways from the gathering.

'Sometimes you have to walk'

The major agenda item – and what ultimately prevented an agreement from being reached – centered around terms for removing US-imposed sanctions on Pyongyang.

Kim purportedly offered to dismantle a nuclear facility at Yongbyon in exchange for sanctions relief, but Washington demanded more comprehensive denuclearization that included multiple nuclear development-related sites. The two-day summit was aborted early after Kim and Trump failed to make headway on the contentious issue.

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"It was about the sanctions basically," Trump said at a press conference after parting ways with the North Korean leader. "They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn't do that. Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times."

Progress?

Critics have panned the summit as an abject failure and a "big mess," but Trump told reporters that there were reasons to be optimistic about achieving a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. He noted that progress has been made even though the two sides will leave Vietnam without an agreement, and that Kim's "vision" for what a denuclearized North Korea would look like is more in line with Washington's position now.

"It's not exactly our vision but it's a lot closer than it was a year ago."

Missile tests v military drills

While no new deal was inked in Vietnam, Trump's post-summit comments show that, at the very least, reconciliatory gestures made by both Washington and Pyongyang remain intact.

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Kim reportedly told Trump that the current freeze on North Korean weapons testing will stay in place.

"He said he's not going to do testing of rockets or missiles or anything having to do with nuclear. And all I can tell is that's what he said, and we'll see," Trump said.

For Washington's part, Trump signaled that the US will continue to shun large-scale military drills with South Korea. Notably, the president, framed the decision as a cost-saving measure.

Partners in peace

The future success of any denuclearization deal will depend on North Korea's neighbors, who have played a key role in helping to broker a suitable agreement, Trump said. Listing South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and "others," the US leader acknowledged that the international community "is very important to this whole thing."

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"I don't want to do something that is going to violate the trust that we built-up. We have a very strong partnership."

Trump said he would follow up with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, who has been "very helpful" and "would love to do a deal." Despite current tensions between the two, Trump also tipped his hat to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, calling him a "great leader" who was "helpful" in helping to facilitate the Hanoi summit.

Future BFFs?

Ultimately, Trump said that he wanted nothing more than to lift sanctions on Pyongyang, and predicted that the US and North Korea would one day enjoy a rosy relationship.

"I think frankly we'll be good friends with Chairman Kim and North Korea, and I think they have tremendous potential. I've been telling everybody they have tremendous potential, unbelievable potential, and we're going to see."

Friends or not, there are currently no plans for a third meeting between the two leaders, a reality that may impede “progress” with negotiations.

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