HANOI - The highly anticipated second summit between United States President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un ended on Thursday (Feb 28) without an agreement between the two leaders, raising doubts on the direction of future talks on North Korea's nuclear programme.
Mr Trump and Mr Kim “had very good and constructive meetings in Hanoi", White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
“The two leaders discussed various ways to advance denuclearisation and economic-driven concepts. No agreement was reached at this time, but their respective teams look forward to meeting in the future," she said.
Earlier, the White House suddenly announced that the summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim would be cut short by two hours.
The two leaders, who began their talks at 10am Singapore time, were supposed to end discussions by 1pm for a working lunch.
It is not clear if the lunch proceeded as scheduled, as reporters were ushered from the dining room at the hotel before seeing the leaders and their aides.
Ms Sanders told reporters just before 2pm that Mr Trump would wrap up negotiations soon and then head back to his hotel to hold a press conference at 3pm - two hours earlier than scheduled.
He was earlier slated to hold a joint agreement signing ceremony with Mr Kim at 3pm.
The two leaders began their day at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi from 10am with a one-on-one chat, after which they took a stroll through the hotel. They were supposed to have a chat at the poolside as well, but it was moved indoors at the last minute due to the hot and humid weather.
The two leaders took some brief questions from the media before they continued with expanded bilateral meetings that involved key aides.
Mr Kim reiterated his willingness to abandon nuclear weapons, saying “I wouldn’t be here if I was not”.
To which Mr Trump replied: “That’s a good answer. Wow. That might be the best answer you’ve ever heard.”
The two leaders were also asked to comment on the possibility of opening a US liaison office in Pyongyang. Mr Kim said it would be welcomed, while Mr Trump said it was a “great thing”.
Asked if there would be a political declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War, Mr Trump said: “No matter what happens we’ll ultimately have a deal that’s really good for Chairman Kim and his country."
But he added that it “doesn’t mean we’re doing it in one day, in one meeting”.
Things then took a change. The summit was cut short and both leaders separately left the Metropole hotel before 2.30pm.
Mr Kim returned to the nearby Melia Hanoi hotel where he has been staying since his arrival on Tuesday, while Mr Trump made his way back to the JW Marriott hotel for the press conference.
South Korea’s currency and stocks fell after reports of the schedule change, with the benchmark Kospi index extending losses to as much as 1.5 per cent, according to Bloomberg.
Mr Trump had earlier appeared to downplay expectations of an immediate breakthrough in nuclear talks, saying that he was in no rush to clinch a rapid deal and was content if a pause in missile testing continued, Agence France-Presse reported.
“Speed’s not that important to me,” Mr Trump said as the pair sat down for talks. "No rush. We just want to do the right deal.”
Mr Trump also said that the talks had been very productive and described his relationship with Mr Kim as "as good as it’s ever been”.
The summit was organised in Hanoi in haste after Mr Trump announced the meeting on Feb 8.
Listen to a wrap of the first Trump-Kim summit on June 12, 2018, that was held in Singapore: