President Donald Trump is on his way back from Hanoi after he was unable to close on what was an anticipated nuclear agreement with North Korean President Kim Jon-un.
All signs were pointing to the signing an agreement that would have relieved economic sanctions in exchange for North Korean nuclear disarmament, but the deal was scuttled almost at the last minute.
Trump and Kim were scheduled to hold a signing ceremony Thursday afternoon in Hanoi, but the event was called off less than two hours ahead of time, and Trump wound up cutting short his trip to depart. Trump’s departure without a nuclear deal in hand is very reminiscent of President Ronald Reagan’s rejection of a bad deal with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and his departure from Reykjavik Summit without concluding a deal.
‘It was about sanctions.’ – President Donald Trump
While many in the media are panning this as a “defeat” or failure for the President, that’s more wish fulfillment than informed analysis.
The fact that Trump has advanced the ball so far in such a short period of time with North Korea is itself a huge accomplishment- and absent in the commentary from today’s media peanut gallery, the fact remains that we’re still in the early stages of the diplomatic process with Chairman Kim. It’s quite evident that Kim very much wants economic development and sanctions lifted, but Trump was not ready to drop the sanctions against North Korea without a, ironclad, verifiable denuclearization program firmly in place.
It’s very likely that today’s setback is just a brief pause in the ongoing diplomacy with North Korea, and it’s likely to be a matter of significant importance when Trump sits down to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida next month.
Below is a transcript just released by the White House of the remarks of President Trump & Chariman Kim:
|Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP
AND CHAIRMAN KIM OF THE STATE AFFAIRS COMMISSION
OF THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA
BEFORE EXPANDED BILATERAL MEETINGSofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
Hanoi, VietnamFebruary 28, 2019
11:03 A.M. ICT
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Are you all having a good time in Hanoi? Everybody having a good time? Everybody? Jeff? I hope.
Q Chairman Kim, are you ready to denuclearize? Are you ready to give up your nuclear weapons?
CHAIRMAN KIM: (As interpreted.) If I’m not willing to do that, I won’t be here right now.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s a good answer. Wow. That might be the best answer you’ve ever heard.
Q Are you willing to take concrete steps to denuclearize, or not quite yet?
CHAIRMAN KIM: (As interpreted.) That is what we are discussing right now.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: And don’t raise your voice, please. This isn’t like dealing with Trump.
CHAIRMAN KIM: (As interpreted.) They all seem to be, you know, anxious.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think they’re anxious and they’re calm.
Q Chairman Kim, are you discussing human rights with President Trump?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re discussing everything.
So I just want to thank everybody for being here. We’re having very productive discussions. We’ll see where it all goes. But we are having very productive discussions, and we appreciate it. I think we’re having a press conference later on, and we’ll then be heading out back to our respective homes.
But, you know, I think we’ve had very, very productive discussions, and the relationship is as good as it’s ever been. Better. I think better.
Q President Trump, is the time right for an end of the war with a political declaration?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: A political what?
Q Political statement to end the war. Is the time right for that?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think that no matter what happens, we’re going to ultimately have a deal that’s really good for Chairman Kim and his country, and for us. I think, ultimately, that’s what’s going to happen. That’s where it’s all leading. It doesn’t mean we’re doing it in one day or two days, but it’s all leading toward a very — a very big success.
And I really believe that, with this great leadership, I really believe that North Korea is going to be very successful, and economically, it’s going to be something very, very special.
Q Chairman Kim, are you ready to allow the United States to have an office in Pyongyang? Are you ready for that step?
PARTICIPANT: (As interpreted.) Is it better to leave — let the media go?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah, I think we will. I think we will.
It’s actually an interesting question though. I would like to actually hear that answer, because it’s actually not a bad idea.
CHAIRMAN KIM: (As interpreted.) Well, I think that is something which is welcomable.
Q It would be welcomed? Today, it would be announced?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I actually think it’s a good idea. Both ways. You know, both ways.
CHAIRMAN KIM: (As interpreted.) If you would kindly give us more time between us, because, you know, one minute — even one minute is more precious to us. Thank you.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you all very much. Thank you very much.
END 11:08 A.M. ICT