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by Sharon Rondeau

The pink lotus is the national flower of Vietnam. Photo credit:  Hong Zhang (jennyzhh2008) – https://pixabay.com/en/lotus-flower-summer-zen-lake-978659/ archive copy at the Wayback Machine (archived on 30 December 2018), CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46646340

(Feb. 28, 2019) — Mainstream news reports Wednesday morning indicate, and President Trump said in remarks afterward, that his second summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un ended without the signing of an agreement encompassing North Korea’s pledged dismantling of its nuclear-weapons apparatus.

Talks and meetings took place on Wednesday and Thursday this week in Hanoi, Vietnam, whose time zone is exactly 12 hours ahead of the US East Coast.

An initial summit in Singapore last June yielded a written agreement which both leaders signed purportedly leading to the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Many foreign-policy observers were skeptical that the North Korean regime would live up to its pledge, and in the months ensuing, U.S. intelligence reported ongoing nuclear-development activity within the hermit nation.

A signing ceremony was to be held on Thursday in Hanoi followed by a luncheon, but both events were canceled at the last minute, Fox News and others reported early Wednesday.  The item of contention was reportedly the extent to which North Korea is willing to denuclearize in exchange for the lifting of U.S. and other nations’ economic sanctions imposed after the regime continued to launch rockets and nuclear tests through 2017, threatening its neighbors and the U.S. territory of Guam.

North Korea’s antagonism toward other nations and repression of its own people have been harshly criticized by human-rights activists such as Amnesty International.

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had said that “continued conversations” between Kim and Trump were the expectation for the Hanoi summit.

Another topic expected to be broached was that of the ongoing war between North and South Korea, which has never formally been halted. The U.S. maintains approximately 28,000 troops in the Korean DMZ to act as a deterrent to North Korean aggression against the South.

Prior to departing Vietnam, Trump told reporters, “Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that.  They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that … We had to walk away from that.”

In response to a reporter’s question of “So if he wants the sanctions completely off and you want more on denuclearization, how can you bridge that gap?” Trump responded, “With time I think it’ll be bridged at a certain point, but there is a gap. We have to have sanctions and he wants to denuke, but he wants to just do areas that are less important than the areas that we want. We know the country very well, believe it or not. We know every inch of that country, and we have to get what we have to get. Because that’s a big give.”

Trump’s complete remarks are posted here.

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