HANOI • In the end, Pyongyang's offer to dismantle its main Yongbyon nuclear test site was just not enough.
Even if this crown jewel of North Korea's nuclear weapons programme was blasted to smithereens, the country would still possess missiles and warheads, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday, as he stood next to US President Donald Trump at a media conference in the JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi.
Talks between Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were expected to produce an agreement, signed by the two men just before Mr Trump was scheduled to speak to reporters.
This second summit in Hanoi was supposed to help break the deadlock that had saddled negotiators from both sides after last year's historic meeting in Singapore.
But yesterday, Mr Trump said it was better to wait than to rush into a bad deal.
"We had a productive two days, but sometimes you have to walk, and this is just one of those times," he told a room of 200 journalists.
A document had been prepared, ready to be inked by the two leaders.
"I could have signed an agreement today, and you people would say, oh what a terrible agreement."
The US sanctions against North Korea remain, he said, while Mr Kim has also promised he will not return to testing his nuclear weapons.
Both Mr Trump and Mr Pompeo tried to downplay the failure of the talks, saying both sides are committed to continue bridging differences.
Mr Pompeo said: "We are certainly closer today than we were six hours ago, and a month or two before that. The departure was with an agreement that we would continue to work on it."
Mr Trump also defended the lack of an agreement, saying the effort to push North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons had been "going on for many decades". "This should have been resolved during many presidential runs," he said.
Yesterday's media conference was a more muted affair compared to the one at the Singapore summit in June last year, where a jubilant Mr Trump held court and spoke to reporters for well over an hour, often giving long, rambling answers to each question.
Looking more solemn and occasionally turning to Mr Pompeo for comments yesterday, Mr Trump took questions for under 40 minutes. He then - looking relieved - said he was about to get on a plane and fly back to "a wonderful place called Washington, DC".
Reports that talks between Mr Trump and Mr Kim had collapsed surfaced at about 12.50pm local time. Their motorcades were seen leaving the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi hotel about half an hour later.
Soon after, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement saying that no agreement was reached, but that the teams looked forward to meeting some time in the future.
"The two leaders discussed various ways to advance denuclearisation and economic-driven concepts," Ms Sanders said in the statement.
Mr Trump had earlier attempted to manage expectations ahead of negotiations with Mr Kim.
"Speed is not that important to me," he said, as the pair met at the Metropole for talks.
"No rush. We just want to do the right deal."