On Feb. 28, 2019, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to meet in Hanoi, Vietnam for their second summit in less than a year. Both President Trump and Kim Jong Un have different goals to achieve, but both parties want peace. According to the New York Times, Kim Jong Un hoped that the United States would lift its economic sanctions off of North Korea. However, President Trump wanted North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program and dismantle any of its nuclear weapons.
This second summit is a follow-up to the previous one held in Singapore in the summer of 2018. It was at the Singapore Summit where Kim Jong Un agreed to “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” as reported by CNN. Negotiations started in the Metropole Hotel the evening before the second summit. According to the New York Times, President Trump had an offer that “could not be refused.” This offer being lifted economic sanctions in exchange for complete denuclearization. However, this has been the deal and foreign policy goal of the previous United States presidents for the past twenty-five years.
The meeting was cut short when the two leaders quickly realized that they would be unable to reach a goal anytime soon. Besides denuclearization, President Trump and Kim Jong Un discussed Otto Warmbier, the college student who was killed in North Korea on a trip. Kim Jong Un claimed that he was “unaware” of what was happening to Warmbier during the time he was imprisoned in a labor camp. To the surprise of many people, President Trump believed Kim Jong Un. According to CNBC, Kim Jong Un was willing to denuclearize some of the areas that President Trumps wanted to be denuclearized in exchange for all of the economic sanctions on North Korea to be lifted. President Trump saw that as an unfair deal and did not accept it. After the summit, President Trump and Kim Jong Un walked outside the hotel and went their separate ways.
It was evident that President Trump looked forward to the second summit for a year. Many White House officials believe that the chances of President Trump and Kim Jong Un reaching an agreement are close to zero, according to the New York Times. White House officials also believe that President Trump traveling 8,000 miles to Hanoi to negotiate with Kim Jong Un was a waste of time.
After the summit, the two leaders would have participated in a signing ceremony, which would have been covered by multiple news outlets. However, no signing ceremony took place because no agreement was reached. In that room stood the flags of two nations who had the ability to reach an agreement to end a worldwide crisis that has spanned multiple decades. Also, in that room were two empty chairs that President Trump and Kim Jong Un did not sit in and pens that did not sign any agreement.
So far, a third summit has not been scheduled and it is unclear if one will occur. From this summit, it can be concluded that both sides may have expectations that are too high and could be rushing potential negotiations. Kim Jong Un has hinted that he wants to denuclearize North Korea but do so gradually. On the other side, President Trump wants North Korea denuclearized immediately.