Hopes for a repeat of the Singapore magic were dashed this week when the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was cut short after the two men failed to find common ground. Trump refused to accede to Kim’s demand for an end to economic sanctions before North Korea fully denuclearized. While Trump would not commit to a third summit, he added that the two men parted on good terms. While we lament the breakdown, Trump’s commitment to a good deal is to be applauded.
Going into the Hanoi meeting, there was widespread belief that the Singapore summit had yielded meager results. The declaration signed by the two men lacked detail — to the point that there was genuine confusion about whether Pyongyang had in fact agreed to give up its nuclear weapons — and North Korea had made few meaningful concessions. There was concern that Trump had committed to a personal relationship with Kim that would prove more important than actual progress toward denuclearization and that a refusal to admit failure would oblige the president to agree to a bad deal at their second meeting.
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