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Trump: U.S. 'walked away' from North Korea demands for sanctions relief

Talks between the United States and North Korea collapsed on the second day of the summit.

By
Elizabeth Shim
President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference after a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday. Photo by Luoing Thai Linh/EPA-EFE
President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference after a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday. Photo by Luoing Thai Linh/EPA-EFE

Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The second U.S.-North Korea summit ended abruptly on Thursday afternoon after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on sanctions and nuclear dismantlement, according to President Donald Trump.

Trump, who appeared exhausted after hours of meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that began Wednesday evening, said the United States walked away from signing its next joint agreement over Pyongyang's demands on sanctions relief.

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"They wanted sanctions lifted in their entirety," Trump said. "We couldn't do that."

The breakdown in bilateral negotiations came as a surprise. A few hours earlier, Trump and Kim had struck a positive tone of mutual optimism. The North Korean leader even took a question from the White House press pool, an unprecedented move that came as Trump assured there would be "no rush" to denuclearize North Korea.

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Trump did not change his assessment of Kim, whom he has called his "friend."

"We'll end up good friends," Trump said, adding North Korea has "tremendous potential" and some of the "most beautiful shorelines in the world."

The president also said the North Koreans were "willing to give us areas" for weapons disclosure, but "not the ones we wanted."

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Trump confirmed the two sides "absolutely" discussed the Yongbyon nuclear facility, a production base for plutonium.

"But [Kim] wanted the sanctions off first," Trump said, adding the North Koreans were "surprised we know...about [a] second uranium enrichment plant."

Even the dismantlement of Yongbyon "still leaves warheads and weapons systems," Trump said.

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who took to the podium at intervals, said the two sides "made real progress."

"Unfortunately we did not get all the way," he said.

During his press conference following the breakdown of talks, Trump also said his former attorney Michael Cohen's testimony before the House Oversight Committee in Washington was a "fake hearing."

Cohen told the committee his ex-boss is a "racist," a "con man" and a "cheat."

"Having a fake hearing like that, having it in the middle of this important summit was a terrible thing. They could have made it two days later," Trump said.

Trump said Kim promised no nuclear or missile testing despite the lack of agreement.

"We just like each other," he said.

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