Trump-Kim Summit
March 1, 2019

After the Hanoi nuclear summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un abruptly fell apart on Thursday, the two sides offered significantly different versions of what had gone wrong. "So who's telling the truth?" The Associated Press reports. "In this case, it seems that the North Koreans are," and the sticking point was "a demand they have been pushing for weeks in lower-level talks."

In a news conference right after the talks crumbled, Trump said that "basically," the North Koreans "wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn't do that." North Korean officials held a rare middle-of-the-night press conference to counter Trump, saying Kim had asked only for partial sanctions relief in return for shutting down North Korea's main nuclear complex and possibly agreeing in writing to permanently end all nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests.

On Thursday night, an unidentified senior State Department official reiterated that North Korea "basically asked for the lifting of all sanctions," but he conceded that the sanctions were only those imposed by the United Nations Security Council since March 2016, not earlier ones tied to Pyongyang's nuclear program. "So Kim was indeed seeking a lot of relief — including the lifting of bans on everything from trade in metals, raw materials, luxury goods, seafood, coal exports, refined petroleum imports, raw petroleum imports," or those that hurt the civilian economy, AP explains. "But Kim wasn't looking for the lifting of sanctions on armaments."

The State Department official said Trump's team had decided that lifting those civilian sanctions would still have given North Korea "many, many billions of dollars," which Pyongyang could use to fund its missile program. Kim's proposal "was definitely a robust demand," AP says. "But it wasn't, as Trump claimed, all the sanctions." Peter Weber

February 28, 2019

North Korean officials aren't pleased about President Trump's explanation for the bilateral summit's collapse.

After abruptly cutting short his summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un without an agreement, Trump said the talks fell apart because "basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety," but they would not agree to enough on denuclearization.

In a press conference, North Korea's foreign minister insisted that they had only demanded partial sanctions relief, reports The Associated Press. Trump said Kim was only willing to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear facility in exchange for a full removal of sanctions, but Ri Yong Ho said negotiations collapsed when the U.S. demanded further steps toward denuclearization. As AP writes:

Ri says the North was also ready to offer in writing a permanent halt of the country's nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests and that Washington wasted an opportunity that "may not come again."

He says the North's position wouldn't change even if the United States offers to resume another round of dialogue.

Warnings that North Korea "may not" be open to further talks contradict what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier, namely, that negotiations would resume quickly despite his leaving Hanoi on an unexpectedly negative note. Pompeo said that despite the sudden breakdown, Trump and Kim made progress. Read more at The Associated Press. Summer Meza

February 28, 2019

At a news conference in Hanoi on Thursday, President Trump said he did bring up the death of American college students Otto Warmbier with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their unsuccessful summit in Vietnam. Warmbier, 22, was arrested while visiting North Korea on suspicion of stealing a propaganda poster, and he died in the U.S. in June 2017 of injuries sustained in a North Korean prison camp. Trump repeatedly said that he doesn't believe Kim knew about Warmbier's treatment. "I don't believe that he would have allowed that to happen," since Warmbier's death was not in Kim's interest, Trump said. "Those prisons are rough places."

Kim was well-versed on the case when Trump brought it up, "but he knew about it later" and "he felt badly about it," Trump said. "He tells me that he didn't know about it, and I take him at his word."

"Trump has taken credit for freeing American prisoners abroad and used Warmbier's death as a rallying cry against the North's human rights abuses before softening his rhetoric in advance of talks with Kim," The Associated Press notes. Peter Weber

February 28, 2019

At a press conference in Hanoi on Thursday, after a summit with North Korea ended abruptly, President Trump said he and Kim Jong Un had a "very productive two days" but "sometimes you have to walk." He said the talks fell apart because "basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety," but they would not agree to enough on denuclearization. "I want to take off the sanctions so badly," because North Korea has such "unbelievable potential," Trump said.

Trump said Kim was willing to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear facility for a full removal of sanctions, and that wasn't enough. "We asked him to do more, he was unprepared to do that," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. Fox News host Sean Hannity asked Trump if walking away was "mostly your decision," but Trump didn't bite. "I don't want to say that it was my decision," he said. "I want to keep the relationship. ... We could have [signed a deal], I just didn't feel it was very appropriate." Trump wouldn't say if he is demanding total denuclearization from Kim, saying only, "We want a lot to be given up."

Trump said there is no third summit with Kim planned, but denied that the talks ended on a bad note. "There's a warmth that we have" with Kim, he said. "It was a very friendly walk." Peter Weber

February 24, 2019

President Trump in a series of tweets Sunday touted his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ahead of their summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, this coming week. Trump also reiterated his Friday enthusiasm for progress in trade talks with Beijing, thanked Russia and China for their support in dealing with North Korea, and praised Kim's political savvy:

Meanwhile, Kim left Pyongyang by train on Saturday for a multi-day journey across China to Vietnam. The trip was confirmed by North Korean state media, which also said Kim is accompanied by his sister, Kim Yo Jong, senior North Korean negotiator Kim Yong Chol, and Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, among others. Bonnie Kristian

June 19, 2018

A majority of Americans (52 percent) are satisfied with the outcome of President Trump's recent summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, CNN poll results published Tuesday show, though assessments are split along predictably partisan lines. While 85 percent of Republicans think the meeting went well, just 52 percent of independents and 28 percent of Democrats agree.

On the subject of which negotiator got the better deal, poll respondents were similarly divided, with a plurality saying Kim did better for his country than Trump did:


Nevertheless, his handling of North Korea is one of Trump's most popular issues with the public with 48 percent approval, second only to the economy, which nets him 49 percent support. Post-summit, Americans are markedly less likely to say North Korea poses an immediate threat to the U.S., though, as other surveys have found, skepticism remains as to whether Kim will really denuclearize. Bonnie Kristian

June 19, 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in China on Tuesday for a two-day visit, his third trip since March. Kim is expected to brief Chinese President Xi Jinping on his recent summit with President Trump. Kim and Trump agreed to work together toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Trump also offered to guarantee the security of the North Korean regime and promised to end "war games" with South Korea, which both North Korea and China have criticized as provocative. The long-reclusive Kim also is expected to use the clout he gained from his meeting with Trump to push for relief from tough international economic sanctions. Harold Maass

June 18, 2018

President Trump has reportedly redecorated the White House with … pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un? The Wall Street Journal's White House reporter, Michael C. Bender, spotted the unexpected wall art in the West Wing, noting that the images have apparently replaced "pics of Trump with Emmanuel Macron, president of France, one of America's closest allies."

Trump has faced backlash over his glowing praise of Kim, who is responsible for egregious human rights violations. Trump said this spring that "everyone thinks" he should win the Nobel Peace Prize for helping thaw tensions with North Korea, "but I would never say it." Jeva Lange

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