Even arm chair observers probably understood long before the Hanoi summit had even been scheduled that the gulf between the American and North Korean positions on denuclearization was probably too wide to overcome (after nearly a year of talks, the two sides are no closer to a deal). Yet, President Trump had apparently hoped that the pomp and circumstance of another historic summit would soften Kim Jong Un up. But despite all the talk about North Korea being “ready to denuclearize” and both leaders hyping up the possibility that a deal would be struck, alas, no deal was forthcoming, and Trump is now headed back to Washington empty handed.
Talks between the two world leaders broke down Thursday afternoon as President Trump abruptly walked away from the table and canceled a planned lunch and signing ceremony (it’s still not clear what the two leaders had hoped to sign, though scheduling the ceremony before a deal had been struck did seem risky). With the talks in disarray, Trump moved up a news conference where he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took questions from the press.