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[This article is a reprint of a North Korean newspaper story published following the Call & Post banner story on March 6, 2019, verifying and illustrating The Honorable Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un’s headline quote “I RESPECT PRESIDENT TRUMP, I DON’T TRUST THE UNITED STATES.”]


North Korea Admits Failure of Trump Summit, a Week After It Broke Down

By Choe Sang-Hun

March 8, 2019

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea acknowledged for the first time on Friday [March 8, 2019] that the summit meeting last week between its leader, Kim Jong-un, and President Trump ended without an agreement, claiming that people “in and outside” the North were blaming the United States for the breakdown.

Until now, North Korea’s state news media had not reported the collapse of the summit meeting, held in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 27 and 28. The failed summit was considered a big embarrassment for Mr. Kim because he had to return home empty-handed after Mr. Trump rejected his demand for relief from United Nations sanctions.

“People in and outside the North had hoped that the second North Korea-United States summit meeting, held in Hanoi, would yield good results,” the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper published by the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary on Friday. “After it unexpectedly ended without an agreement, they are letting out sighs of regret, all arguing that the United States was responsible.”

But the commentary also said that “the whole world sincerely hopes that the peace process on the Korean Peninsula will proceed smoothly and the North Korea-United States relations will improve soon.”

The North’s recent move to rebuild centers that it has used to launch satellites into orbit and test missile technologies has raised fears among some analysts that the country might resume missile tests.

But since the Hanoi meeting, North Korea has shied away from using harsh language against the United States or Mr. Trump. By only indirectly blaming Washington for the failure and voicing hopes for better ties, Friday’s commentary appeared to signal a willingness to keep diplomacy alive with the United States.

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Friday morning, Mr. Trump said he felt his relationship with Mr. Kim and North Korea “remains good,” and that he would be “surprised in a negative way” by any return to testing.

With its economy contracting, North Korea is desperate to win relief from punishing United Nations sanctions.

In Hanoi, North Korea sought the lifting of key sanctions in return for a partial dismantling of its nuclear weapons program. But Mr. Trump demanded more serious commitments to denuclearization before he would provide significant sanctions relief.

When the meeting began, the North’s state news media voiced high expectations, reporting that Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump were discussing “comprehensive and epoch-making results.”

After it abruptly ended without a deal, the state news media made no mention of the breakdown. Instead, newspapers highlighted Mr. Kim’s performance on the world stage, claiming that international media and commentaries were praising his diplomatic acumen.

This week, the North’s main state TV network aired a 75-minute documentary that showed Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump walking and conversing side by side, “writing a new history and a new future.” The documentary said Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump remained committed to meet more often and improve their countries’ relations.

It remained unclear why North Korea had decided to acknowledge that the meeting ended without a deal. But it has become increasingly difficult for the North Korean government to hide such news from its people.

Although ordinary North Koreans are cut off from the global internet, outside news enters the isolated country through people traveling to and from China.

The Rodong commentary on Friday mainly targeted Japan, accusing the “political dwarfs” there of trying to sabotage the Hanoi meeting.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan has strongly argued that Washington should not ease sanctions until after North Korea denuclearizes. There was relief in Japan after the Hanoi talks broke down.

Tokyo had feared an agreement between Washington and Pyongyang in which Mr. Trump might settle for the end of the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile program but let the country keep its stockpile of short- to midrange missiles, which could reach Japan.

“The reactionaries in Japan could not contain their glee” after the Hanoi meeting broke down, the commentary said. “They are so despicable that we feel like slapping them in the face.”

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