NATIONAL

Trump hints US, NK have different visions for denuclearization

By Jo He-rim
  • Published : Feb 28, 2019 - 21:43
  • Updated : Feb 28, 2019 - 22:50

HANOI, Vietnam -- US President Donald Trump hinted that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s vision for denuclearization may be different from that of the United States, after the two failed to reached an agreement at their summit in Hanoi on Thursday.

During a press conference, Trump said that while the meeting with Kim was “productive,” he felt it was not time to sign a deal, as they had failed to reduce gaps on the extent of denuclearization and the lifting of economic sanctions.

Kim had asked for the lifting of all sanctions imposed on his regime, which Trump could not give, and the United States had called for denuclearization involving more areas than that which the North could give, Trump said.

“We have to have sanctions and he (Kim) wants to denuke, but he wants to just do areas that are less important than the areas that we want,” Trump explained. 

US President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi, Vietnam on Thursday. (EPA-Yonhap)

Trump’s press conference, held at JW Marriot Hotel Hanoi at around 2 p.m., had been moved forward two hours, after the two leaders failed to reach an accord on their second day of meetings. After a private one-on-one meeting and an expanded meeting in the morning, they canceled their working lunch and the joint agreement-signing ceremony that had been expected to follow.

During the press conference, Trump refused to comment on the intentions behind North Korea’s denuclearization commitment, but said that Kim’s “certain vision” differs from that of the United States.

“I don’t want to comment on that exactly, but he has a certain vision and it’s not exactly our vision. But it’s a lot closer than it was a year ago. And I think, you know eventually we’ll get there,” Trump said

During the two-day summit, the two leaders discussed many points, including the dismantling of the Yongbyon nuclear complex and the North’s uranium enrichment plan -- of which the North was “surprised” on the extent of how much the United States knew, Trump said. But they still have missiles, war heads and weapons systems that they could not yet address, he added.

Regarding concerns that Pyongyang may resume its nuclear tests after the breakdown of the summit, Trump said he believes in Kim’s commitment to denuclearization. 

“You always have to be prepared to walk,” Trump said. “I could have 100 percent signed something today. We actually had papers ready to be signed, but it just wasn’t appropriate. ... I’d much rather do it right than do it fast.” 

“He said the testing will not start. 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 refused to comment on imposing more sanctions on North Korea, but said he cares about the people living in North Korea, and that the sanctions imposed are “very strong.”

As for joint US-South Korea military exercises, Trump said he “gave up” on it quite a while ago, as it costs the US “a lot of money.” He also said South Korea should help with those expenses of millions of dollars for the exercises

While explaining that their meeting ended in a friendly and warm atmosphere, Trump went on to point out how previous administrations had failed to resolve the decades-old issue with North Korea.

“This has been going on for many decades. This isn’t me. This should have been solved during many presidential runs, and, you know, people talked about it. They never did anything.”

This is not the first time that leaders have failed to strike an agreement at a major summit. Talks between US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had collapsed at the Reykjavik Summit in 1986, which was convened to discuss a nuclear treaty. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed between the two in 1987. Trump recently withdrew from the INF treaty.

By Jo He-rim, Korea Herald correspondent 
(herim@heraldcorp.com)