Trump says sanctions are a sticking point in nuclear talks with Kim

Trump says sanctions are a sticking point in nuclear talks with Kim
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE said Thursday a deal on denuclearization could not be reached during his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because Kim wanted all sanctions against North Korea lifted without taking all the steps the United States was asking of him.

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

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“It was about the sanctions,” Trump added later. “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.”

Asked later if he wants all nuclear weapons to be given up before sanctions are lifted, Trump said, “we want a lot to be given up.”

Trump was speaking alongside Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats warn State Dept against punishing individuals who testify in impeachment hearings Pompeo condemns 'deplorable' killings of Iraqi protesters MORE after his second summit with Kim ended earlier than expected when the two leaders did not reach a deal on denuclearization.

The failure to reach an agreement 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 hardliners who were worried Trump would do just that.

Despite the outcome, Trump said his second summit with Kim was "very productive" and Pompeo expressed hope talks would continue in the "days and weeks ahead."

“We made even more progress when the two leaders met over the last 24, 36 hours. Unfortunately, we didn’t get all the way,” Pompeo said. “But I’m still optimistic. I hopeful that the teams will get back together in the days and weeks ahead and continue to work out-- it’s a very complex problem.”

Trump also continued to tout his personal relationship with Kim, at one point saying he took Kim at his word that he did not know about the state of U.S. citizen Otto Warmbier, who died after being returned in a coma to the United States after being held hostage in North Korea.

"He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word,” Trump said.

Trump also said he trusts that Kim will not resume nuclear and missile testing after Kim told him he would not.

The Hanoi summit came about eight months after Trump and Kim’s first summit in Singapore. At the first 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.

On Thursday, Trump said Kim wanted sanctions lifted before dismantling Yongbyon.

While closing Yongbyon would slow North Korea’s ability to produce nuclear weapons, it would not eliminate and it would not address the nuclear weapons Kim already has -- a fact also alluded to by Trump.

“He would do that, but he wants the sanctions for that,” Trump said of Yongbyon. “And as you know there’s plenty left after that.”

Trump added that “we had to have more than” Yongbyon.

Pompeo also said there were issues to work out on timing, sequencing and a declaration of North Korea’s weapons.

Trump also said there continues to be a gap between the United States and North Korea’s definition of denuclearization.

“He has a certain vision, and it’s not exactly our vision, but it’s a lot closer than it was a year ago,” Trump said of Kim’s definition of denuclearization.

At the end of the first summit, Trump surprised the Pentagon and South Korea by announcing a suspension of joint U.S.-South Korean military drills, which he derided as overly costly war games.

Asked if he would resume the drills, Trump again spoke about what he said were excessive costs without specifying the fate of the drills.

“I’m not saying it’s not necessary, because on some levels it is, but in other levels it’s not, but it’s a very, very expensive thing,” he said. “And you know, we do have to think about that too.”

Updated at 3:28 a.m.