The widely anticipated summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on February 27 and 28 turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to normalize diplomatic relations between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, reports the Associated Press. Though initially very promising, the summit came up short of the international community’s expectations.
After a fairly productive summit in Singapore a year before, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, the leaders of both countries respectively, sat down again to further their mission in a signed agreement on denuclearization and peace in both Koreas. Many experts predicted before this year’s summit that if everything went well, a peaceful and cooperative future between the involved states would no longer be just be a dream, reports the Associated Press.
According to the Associated Press, U.S. President Donald Trump walked away from the summit after the second day, claiming that the DPRK’s leader requested too much of him. President Trump emphasized in the press conference afterwards that the demands were overwhelming for the U.S. delegation, which ultimately led to the failure of the summit.
However, immediately after Trump’s statements, the North Korean delegation clarified that complete sanction relief was not their primary goal in this summit. Rather, they were asking for a lifting of sanctions from several United Nations Resolutions adopted in 2016 and 2017, reports The Diplomat. The North Korean delegation stated that, “We will permanently and completely dismantle all the nuclear material production facilities in the Yongbyon area, including plutonium and uranium, in the presence of U.S. experts and by the joint work of technicians from both countries.”
This conclusion left many disappointed, as many promises made prior to the summit will not come to fruition.
While this setback brings more uncertainty for future negotiations, an ultimate result might unexpectedly swing in ways beneficial to the larger international community instead of the two parties directly involved. Seeing the serious pragmatism from both sides, rather than the usual soft agreements with no progress, involved parties such as Japan, South Korea, China, and Russia will be more willing to seek solutions for their own advantages, even if those negotiations involve long processes.
NPR reports that on the American side, because of this embarrassment in failing to negotiate a deal, President Trump will be unlikely to agree to any further meetings before a substantial accord is reached. In terms of their counterparts in North Korea, Kim Jong-un realizes that even with Trump, nothing is guaranteed.
By walking away empty handed, President Trump indicates that he intends to wait for another opportunity to make any concrete progress in the near future. Diplomatic negotiations behind closed doors might be helpful in certain cases, but not in this one, says Foreign Affairs.
On a positive note, reports The Hill, the DPRK’s Chairman showed more seriousness than ever in comparison to his father, Kim Jong-il, nearly a decade ago. Kim Jong-un expressed his confidence going into the summit, and that confidence still exists despite the disappointing results.