Trump-Kim negotiating process under threat

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during the second North Korea-US summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, in a photo released on March 1, 2019.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during the second North Korea-US summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, in a photo released on March 1, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

When United States President Donald Trump abruptly walked away from last week's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, he emphasised that it was not an angry walk, "it was a very friendly walk", and he hoped the two sides would return to the negotiating table soon.

But one week later, the negotiating process appears more fragile than ever because of reports that North Korea has started rebuilding a satellite rocket launchpad and engine test site that it previously said it was dismantling. The site had been used to test the engines of long-range ballistic missiles, which the US wants to see dismantled.

Analysts said the move demonstrates the volatility of a negotiating process that began with Mr Trump's threats of North Korea's total destruction, followed by a pair of cordial and historic summits between the two leaders and which may now enter a third phase of renewed sabre-rattling.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2019, with the headline 'Trump-Kim negotiating process under threat'. Print Edition | Subscribe