Trump-Kim summit ends with no agreement on denuclearization

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s second summit ended without any agreement Thursday.

"Sometimes you have to walk," Trump said at a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam. "This was just one of those times."

Trump said the sticking point was sanctions, which Kim wanted lifted before taking all steps the United States was asking of him.

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“It was about the sanctions,” Trump said. “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 we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that.”

Despite the outcome, Trump said the summit was "very productive."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the two leaders "discussed various ways to advance denuclearization and economic driven concepts.”

“No agreement was reached at this time, but their respective teams look forward to meeting in the future,” she added.

The lack of any tangible results could give fodder to critics who have accused Trump of holding summits with Kim that are nothing more than photo ops that boost the legitimacy of the North Korean dictator.

But walking away because of an unwillingness to lift sanctions could also please those same hard-liners who were worried Trump would do just that.

Trump appeared to lower expectations heading into the summit, saying repeatedly that he is in “no rush” to make a deal.

“Speed is not important,” Trump said Thursday. “What’s important is that we do the right deal.”

Still, Trump has been touting what he referred to Wednesday as a “very special relationship” with Kim and sought to entice him into a deal to relinquish his nuclear weapons by trumpeting the economic benefits that await him.

“I think it’s going to be an economic powerhouse,” Trump said of North Korea. “And it’s something I very much look forward to helping with.”

The summit included a one-on-one meeting and dinner Wednesday night, followed by a one-on-one meeting and meeting with their aides Thursday.

Signs that no agreement was within reach became clearer a half-hour after a working lunch was supposed to start when the White House told reporters the summit would end earlier than expected. The schedule originally called for the lunch and a ceremony to sign a joint agreement, both of which were abruptly scrapped.

At the start of Thursday meeting, Kim said he was not “pessimistic” about the ability to reach a deal and that he had a “feeling that good results would come out” of the summit.

Kim’s comment came during a response to a question from a Washington Post reporter, the first time the North Korean leader has ever taken questions from Western media.

Kim later answered other questions from U.S. reporters during the meeting with aides.

Asked if he was ready to denuclearize, Kim said through an interpreter, “If I'm not willing to do that, I won't be here right now.”

But pressed on if he’s ready to take concrete steps, Kim said, “That is what we are discussing right now.”

Outside observers and U.S. lawmakers had expressed low expectations heading into the summit for what would be accomplished given North Korea’s history of deception and the vague statement that came out of their first summit in Singapore.

At the Singapore summit, Trump and Kim signed a joint statement where North Korea pledged to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

But the statement did not outline any concrete steps toward achieving that goal.

In days leading up the Hanoi, speculation on what would be in an agreement centered on a peace declaration to end the Korean War in exchange for Kim agreeing to shutter the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

There was also talk of an agreement to exchange liaison offices — quasi-embassies — between Pyongyang and Washington.

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The summit had been competing for attention with the congressional testimony of Trump’s formal personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee that Trump is a “racist” and a “cheat” who had prior knowledge of WikiLeaks’ dump of damaging Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential race.

Trump during the press conference in Vietnam blasted Cohen’s testimony, but said he was “a little impressed” his former personal lawyer claimed there was “no collusion” between the president's campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.

Hours before his first meeting with Kim on Wednesday, Trump tweeted that Cohen was only “one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately),” a sign the president was also paying attention to the events back in Washington.

“He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!” Trump wrote, referring to Cohen adviser Lanny Davis, who once worked for former President Clinton.

Updated at 6:46 a.m.