- REUTERS/Leah Millis
- North Korea’s foreign minister has contradicted President Donald Trump’s summary of his second meeting with Kim Jong Un.
- Early Friday in Vietnam, Ri Yong Ho said North Korea had not asked for the US to ease all sanctions in exchange for concessions it was willing to make on its nuclear program, going against Trump’s account on what transpired.
- After meeting with Kim on Wednesday and Thursday, Trump had said, “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that.”
HANOI, Vietnam – North Korea held a rare press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, slightly after midnight local time on Friday, at the Meliá hotel, where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stayed during his second meeting with President Donald Trump.
During the press conference, North Korean officials contradicted Trump’s summary of his discussions with Kim, which ended earlier than planned without a deal.
North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, speaking in Korean but joined by two translators, said the North had offered to dismantle Yongbyon – its primary nuclear facility. He added that Pyongyang also offered to permanently halt testing of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles but that the US asked for even more.
“It became crystal clear that the US was not ready to accept our proposal,” Ri said.
Contrary to claims Trump made on Thursday in Hanoi, Ri said the North Koreans did not ask for full easing of sanctions in exchange for these actions.
“What we proposed was not the removal of all sanctions but partial,” Ri said.
The North Korean foreign minister did not comment on any questions shouted from reporters and froze briefly and smiled when he heard a question on Otto Warmbier before departing.
The statement on sanctions was much different from Trump’s assessment of the meeting earlier on Thursday.
“Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that,” Trump said at a press conference. “They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that.”
The president later added: “They wanted sanctions lifted, but they weren’t willing to do an area that we wanted. They were willing to give us areas but not the ones we wanted.”
Trump on why a deal with North Korea couldn't be reached: "It was about the sanctions. Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn't do that."
"I think we'll end up being very good friends with Chairman Kim & North Korea," he adds. pic.twitter.com/1YbqWn3TvW
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2019
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER on the North Korean foreign minister’s remarks.
Trump’s meeting with Kim is being painted as a failure by some experts back in the US given that North Korea walked away without agreeing to full denuclearization, especially since the president seemed to be hopeful prior to the meeting about what could be accomplished.
“Heading over to Vietnam for my meeting with Kim Jong Un. Looking forward to a very productive Summit!” Trump tweeted on Monday.
The president is also facing criticism for taking Kim’s word that he didn’t know about any maltreatment of Warmbier, a US student who was detained in North Korea. Pyongyang released Warmbier to be returned to the US, but he was in a vegetative state and died soon after.
Separately, Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s vice minister of foreign affairs, raised uncertainty about the future of the negotiations between the two countries.
“I cannot guarantee that this opportunity will be offered to the US once more,” Choe said.