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By Associate press
HANOI, Vietnam – President Donald Trump said he went away from his second summit with Kim Jong Un, because the North Korean leader demanded that the United States lift all its sanctions, a requirement that Kim's delegation called a rare news conference in the middle of the night to refuse.
So who tells the truth? In this case, it seems that the North Koreans are. And it's a demand they've pushed for weeks in subordinate negotiations.
Trumps expected meeting with Kim, held in the Vietnamese capital Wednesday and Thursday, ended abruptly and without the two leaders who signed any agreements. Trump spoke to journalists shortly after the negotiations broke down and said the dispute over sanctions was the deal breaker.
"In principle, they wanted the sanctions to be lifted in their entirety and we couldn't do that," he said. "We had to get away from it."
Hours later, two senior members of the Nordic delegation told reporters, that was not what Kim had demanded. They insisted that Kim had only requested partial sanction in exchange for closing the Nordic's most important nuclear complex. Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said that the Nordic countries were also ready to offer a permanent writing stopping the country's nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests.
Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Sun Hui said that Trump's reaction confused Kim and added that Kim "may have lost his will (to continue) North Korea-USA.
The state department then clarified the position of the United States.
According to a senior official who informed the media on the condition that he was not named because he was not authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly, the North Koreans "basically called for all sanctions".
But he acknowledged that Nord's demand was only for Washington to reverse the lifting of the United Nations Security Council's sanctions imposed since March 2016 and did not include the other decades that went back a decade more.
What Pyongyang sought, he said, was the lifting of sanctions that hamper civilian economy and livelihoods – as Ri had claimed.
The UN Security Council has imposed nearly a dozen decisions on North Korea, making it one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. So Kim sought a lot of relief – including lifting of a ban on everything from trade in metals, raw materials, luxury goods, seafood, coal exports, refined oil imports, crude oil imports.
But Kim did not seek the lifting of sanctions on weapons. These were imposed earlier from 2006 when the Nordic countries carried out their first nuclear test.
For Pyongyang, this is an important difference.
While claiming that its nuclear weapons are necessary for self-defense, it at least currently offered to accept sanctions directly related to nuclear weapons and missile technology. But the Nordic countries have always considered the introduction of sanctions in other trading areas even more frightening and designated them as their point of negotiation.
The Secretary of State said that Trump and his dealers considered it to be a bridge too far because they had already stated that lifting after the sanctions after 2016 would be worth "many billions of dollars" for the Nordic countries and could essentially be used to finance their continued nuclear and missile programs.
So it was definitely a robust demand. But it was not, as Trump claimed, all the sanctions.
Nor did it come as a surprise. He said the Nordic countries had pushed this demand for weeks into lower level negotiations.
Nevertheless, both sides seemed to have a good face at the summit, which Trump said was generally friendly and constructive.
In a much softer tone than the officials at the Late Quarter Conference, the Nordic state-controlled media did not talk about Trump's decision to leave without any agreements and pointed out that the Nordic countries were looking for more conversations.
"The top two leaders of the two leaders appreciated that the second meeting in Hanoi offered an important opportunity to deepen mutual respect and trust and set the relationship between the two countries at a new stage," it said. "They agreed to keep in close contact with each other for the denuclination of the Korean Peninsula and the epocal development of the DPRK-U. Relations in the future."
It said Kim expressed his thanks to Trump for making positive efforts at the successful meeting and speaking "while making a long journey and saying goodbye, promising the next meeting."