HANOI, Vietnam — President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un dove into the details of nuclear negotiations Thursday against a backdrop of swirling questions about what Kim was willing to give up and what Trump may demand in the face of rising domestic turmoil. Tempering expectations, Trump opened by declaring, “There’s no rush. We just want to do the right deal.”
The two men continued to offer hopeful words as talks began anew at their second summit about curbing Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, a problem that has bedeviled generations of leaders. In a sharp break from his rhetoric a year ago, when he painted the threat from Pyongyang as so grave that “fire and fury” may need to be rained down on North Korea, Trump made clear he was willing to accept a slower timetable for denuclearization.
“Speed is not important,” Trump said. “What’s important is that we do the right deal.”
"I am in no rush" when it comes to making a deal with North Korea, President Trump tells reporters during his second face-to-face summit with Kim Jong Un. pic.twitter.com/R9PThxEktk
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) February 28, 2019
Accompanied only by translators, the unlikely pair — a 72-year-old billionaire and a 35-year-old reclusive autocrat — displayed a familiarity with one another as they began the day’s negotiations.
“The relationship is just very strong and when you have a good relationship a lot of good things happen,” said Trump. He added that, at their opulent dinner the night before, “a lot of great ideas were being thrown about.” He offered no specifics.
Kim, for his part, said “I believe by intuition that good results will be produced.”
“I believe that starting from yesterday, the whole world is looking at this spot right now,” he said, via his translator. “I’m sure that all of them will be watching the moment that we are sitting together side by side as if they are watching a fantasy movie.”
Possible outcomes could include a peace declaration for the Korean War that the North could use to eventually push for the reduction of U.S. troops in South Korea, or sanctions relief that could allow Pyongyang to pursue lucrative economic projects with the South.
Skeptics say such agreements would leave in place a significant portion of North Korea’s nuclear-tipped missiles while robbing the United States of its negotiating leverage going forward. Asked if this summit would yield a political declaration to end the Korean War, Trump told reporters on Wednesday: “We’ll see.”