The second nuclear summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un appeared to be going smoothly, until Thursday afternoon, when negotiations abruptly ended. No deal was reached.
The morning had started on a promising note, with Kim telling journalists he was committed to fully denuclearizing. “If I’m not willing to do that I wouldn’t be here right now,” he said.
But then the preliminary meeting went 30 minutes over schedule. Lunch was canceled, and Trump headed to meet the press pool without Kim’s entourage.
“Sometimes you have to walk, and this was one of those times,” Trump said at his hour-long press conference. Kim, he added, had wanted all sanctions lifted in exchange for shutting the Yongbyon nuclear facility.
Ahead of the meeting, Trump had said there was “awesome” potential for a deal. The world’s largest nuclear power ultimately hopes to convince the most reclusive one to give up its arsenal, in exchange for the lifting of sanctions and future economic prosperity. But, the President repeatedly said, there is “no rush.”
Air Force One departed Hanoi more two hours earlier than anticipated. Kim, meanwhile, has said he will stay on until Saturday, and then return to Pyongyang on his armored train.
Here, in five moments, is the story of Trump and Kim’s second meeting.
The Meet and Greet
Meeting in person for the first time on Wednesday since Singapore last June, the pair shook hands and exchanged pleasantries as the cameras bombarded them. Known for their effusive relationship, the two leaders were quick to shower praise. Smiling widely, Trump reportedly hailed the autocrat as a “great leader,” and in return, Kim called him “courageous.”
Chefs reportedly struggled with a bill of fare that would satisfy both the guests from Pyongyang and the ones from Washington. They eventually settled on a three-course meal that would not have been out of place at one of Trump’s establishments. Trump and Kim were each accompanied by two senior aides and their translators, and all enjoyed a four-course menu of shrimp cocktail, sirloin steaks served with pear kimchi, chocolate lava cake, and dried persimmon and honey punch.
The Unprecedented Q&A With Kim Jong Un
The summit appeared to be going so well that by the second day Kim broke with precedent and started taking questions from Western reporters.
“There are people who have been skeptical about this meeting. But I am sure all of them will be watching [us] sitting together side-by-side as if they are watching a fantasy movie,” he said through an interpreter.
Then seated across from Trump before their bilateral meeting got underway, Kim answered more questions.
The Sudden Departure
The lunch table was all set, another three-course menu in the works, but the summit was hastily called to a close. Trump says neither side stood up and walked out, but that the two sides parted on good terms.
He says he still has a “warm relationship” with the 35-year-old autocrat.
But the smile was gone by the time Trump took the podium at the JW Marriott. A visibly downtrodden Trump told the press he “could have done a deal today” but that it “wasn’t appropriate.” He said the talks collapsed over North Korea’s request that the U.S. “give up all the sanctions leverage” in exchange for a partial denuclearization.
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