President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un abruptly ended summit talks earlier than scheduled Thursday and canceled a planned signing ceremony for a nuclear deal.
The stunning announcement came after Trump and Kim tamped down expectations for the two-day summit that played out amid ceremony in Vietnam and political turmoil in the United States.
“We’ll ultimately have a deal,” Trump told reporters just a few hours before cutting off talks early, but he added that “doesn’t mean we’re doing it in one day, in one meeting.”
The leaders suggested they may have trouble bridging the U.S. demand that North Korea provide a specific plan for denuclearization and North Korea’s demand that the U.S. first ease off economic sanctions.
As he did before the summit, Trump said he was in no “rush” to demand immediate denuclearization, so long as North Korea continues not to test nuclear weapons and missiles.
“Speed is not that important to me,” Trump said. “I appreciate no testing.”
Kim, taking the unprecedented step of answering a western reporter’s question, said “it’s too early to say” whether there will be a deal, but “I would not say I’m pessimistic.”
Later, again responding to an American reporter, Kim said he is willing to denuclearize his nation’s weapons systems. “If I’m not willing to do that,” he said, “I won’t be here right now.”
“That might be the best answer you’ve ever heard,” Trump chimed in.