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North Korea reports collapsed summit as 'fruitful trip'

Kim Jong Un returned to Pyongyang early Tuesday.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea reports collapsed summit as 'fruitful trip'
A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waving to a crowd upon arrival at home early Tuesday. Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE

SEOUL, March 4 (UPI) -- North Korea claimed Kim Jong Un concluded a "productive visit" to Vietnam, following his return to Pyongyang early Tuesday.

Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported Kim reached Pyongyang in his armored train at 3 a.m. after concluding talks at the second U.S.-North Korea summit with President Donald Trump.

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North Korea did not report what actually took place last week: The summit ended abruptly last Thursday after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on sanctions and nuclear dismantlement.

Trump told reporters in Hanoi he "walked away" from signing a joint agreement because of Pyongyang's demands on sanctions relief.

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On Tuesday North Korea said "the people" welcomed Kim back to the country following his weeklong absence.

"At 3 a.m. as a welcome song rang out, the train of the supreme leader and comrade [Kim Jong Un] slowly inched its way into Pyongyang Station," the Rodong reported. "It was then the people filled the skies of Pyongyang with their cheers...they had been counting down the days, whether awake or in a dreamy state, until the supreme leader comrade would return."

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Kim left the country on Feb. 23, at 5 p.m., according to state media. The entire trip took more than nine days, during which Kim's train covered about 4,700 miles of railroad tracks.

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Top North Korean officials, including Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea, welcomed the North Korean leader at the station, according to the Rodong.

The newspaper said Kim Jong Un completed his visit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam "amid great global interest" around the Hanoi Summit. The paper added the visit was "productive" and officials were "excited" to see him again.

North Korea had reported Kim's departure for the summit before the talks collapsed, an unusual move for the regime's media.

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Kim may have been expecting major concessions from the United States. He was likely "very angry" when the summit broke down, a South Korea-based defector said.

Thae Yong-ho, the former North Korean diplomat, said reporting the summit as a failure is not an option for North Korean state media. Kim was possibly very angry with his staff, which includes his sister Kim Yo Jong, South Korean paper Chosun Ilbo reported.

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