HANOI, Vietnam – President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un failed to strike a nuclear deal Thursday, abruptly ending their highly promoted summit hours early and leaving the fate of North Korea’s nuclear weapons up in the air.
“Sometimes you have to walk,” Trump told reporters, though he expressed the hope that U.S. and North Korean negotiators could keep talking.
Trump said Kim had insisted that the United States end all economic sanctions on North Korea before it committed to a specific denuclearization plan, and that broke up the negotiations.
“It was about the sanctions,” he said. “We couldn’t give up all the sanctions”
Despite the impasse, Trump continued to praise Kim, calling him “quite a guy and quite a character,” and that there still was a lot of “warmth” in their relationship.
While the Vietnam summit collapsed, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the U.S. and North Korean negotiating teams “look forward to meeting in the future,”
The stunning announcement came after Trump and Kim tamped down expectations for the two-day summit that played out amid ceremony in Vietnam and political turmoil in the United States.
“We’ll ultimately have a deal,” Trump told reporters just a few hours before cutting off talks early, but he added that “doesn’t mean we’re doing it in one day, in one meeting.”
The president spoke guardedly throughout a morning of meetings with Kim that came just after his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, implicated him in criminal wrongdoing back in the U.S.
The leaders suggested they may have trouble bridging the U.S. demand that North Korea provide a specific plan for denuclearization and North Korea’s demand that the U.S. first ease off economic sanctions.