No deal reached between Trump, Kim at 2nd summit

The nuclear summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un ended early after the two sides failed to reach a deal due to a standoff over U.S. sanctions on the reclusive nation, a stunning end to high-stakes meetings meant to disarm a global threat.

'Sometimes you have to walk,' Trump says after Hanoi talks end early

The two leaders walk in the garden of the Metropole hotel during the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended their summit without a deal. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

The nuclear summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un collapsed Thursday after the two sides failed to reach a deal due to a standoff over U.S. sanctions on the reclusive nation, a stunning end to high-stakes meetings meant to disarm a global threat.

Trump, in a news conference after the abrupt end to the talks, said the breakdown occurred over North Korea's insistence that all punishing sanctions the U.S. had imposed on North Korea be lifted without Pyongyang committing to eliminate its entire nuclear arsenal.

"Sometimes you have to walk," Trump explained, adding that an agreement was "ready to sign."

"I'd much rather do it right than do it fast," the president said. "We're in position to do something very special."

Watch Trump discuss why he walked from the summit:

Trump says he 'could have' signed deal with Kim

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Featured VideoThe U.S. president discusses why he chose to 'walk' from the nuclear summit with North Korea.

North Korea's foreign minister later disputed Trump's explanation for the summit's collapse, saying the country only asked for partial relief of U.S. sanctions.

Minister Ri Yong-ho also told a news conference that Pyongyang had offered to permanently dismantle all its nuclear material production, including plutonium and uranium observed by U.S. experts, but Washington insisted they take one more step beyond dismantling its Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Both leaders' motorcades roared away from the downtown Hanoi summit site within minutes of each other after both a lunch and the signing ceremony were scuttled.

How things will unfold next wasn't immediately clear. Trump told reporters that the summit ended on a good note, but that there are no current plans for a third summit.

"It might be soon. It might not be for a long time," the president said.

Trump took off from Hanoi more than two hours early after the abrupt change in schedule. Air Force One is scheduled to refuel in Anchorage, Alaska, before returning to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington late Thursday.

In something of a role reversal, Trump deliberately ratcheted down some of the pressure on Pyongyang, abandoning his fiery rhetoric and declaring he wanted the "right deal" over a rushed agreement.

For his part, Kim, when asked whether he was ready to denuclearize, said "If I'm not willing to do that I won't be here right now."

The breakdown denied Trump of a much-needed victory that could have offset some of the growing domestic turmoil back home. But he insisted that relations with Kim remained warm, stressed that progress had been made and said he was still hopeful of eventually reaching a deal to denuclearize North Korea.

Russia laments lack of compromise, South Korea optimistic

International response to the summit ranged from chastizing both sides to cautious optimism.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Moscow is encouraged by the fact the negotiations did not break down completely, but lamented the lack of "small steps" and flexibility that could have helped to achieve some progress.

Peskov says the North Korean nuclear program is a complicated issue that is "impossible to solve in one go."

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said during a regular news briefing Thursday that the situation in the Korean Peninsula experienced a significant "turnaround" over the past year, a "hard-won result" that is worth cherishing.

Meanwhile, South Korea's presidential office said it was "unfortunate" that Trump and Kim failed to produce an agreement, but said it expects "active dialogue" to continue between Washington and Pyongyang.

It also said Trump raising the possibility of sanctions relief in exchange for nuclear disarmament steps from the North shows that the nuclear negotiations between the countries have entered an "elevated level."

The collapse of the Trump-Kim summit could prove to be a setback for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, whose ambitions for inter-Korean engagement hinge on a nuclear breakthrough between Washington and Pyongyang.

Overshadowed by Cohen? 

.Ahead of the summit, some had speculated that possible outcomes could include a peace declaration for the Korean War that the North could use to eventually push for the reduction of U.S. troops in South Korea, or sanctions relief that could allow Pyongyang to pursue lucrative economic projects with the South.

Skeptics said such agreements would leave in place a significant portion of North Korea's nuclear-tipped missiles while robbing the United States of its negotiating leverage going forward. 

WATCH | North Korea vs. South Korea: Why has the peninsula been divided?

Hours before he sat down again with Kim, Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, delivered explosive congressional testimony claiming the president is a "con man" who lied about his business interests with Russia.

Trump, unable to ignore the drama playing out thousands of kilometres away, tweeted that Cohen "did bad things unrelated to Trump" and "is lying in order to reduce his prison time." Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison for lying to Congress.

Some of Trump's previous overseas trips have also been marred by developments at home, including special counsel Robert Mueller's indictments last July of Russian intelligence officers who interfered on Trump's behalf in the 2016 election, charges that were filed days before the president and Russia's Vladimir Putin met in Helsinki.

Kim, meanwhile, has emerged with confidence on the world stage over the last year, repeatedly stepping out diplomatically with South Korean, Chinese and U.S. leaders.

But many experts worry that the other, darker side of Kim's leadership is being brushed aside in the rush to address the North's nuclear weapons program: the charges of massive human rights abuses; the prison camps filled with dissidents; a near complete absence of media, religious and speech freedoms; the famine in the 1990s that killed hundreds of thousands; and the executions of a slew of government and military officials, including his uncle and the alleged assassination order of his half-brother in a Malaysian airport.

North Korea is a fiercely proud nation that has built a nuclear program despite decades of some of the world's harshest sanctions, but extreme poverty and political repression has caused tens of thousands to flee, mostly to South Korea. There are doubts that Kim will give away the program without getting something substantial in return from the U.S.

After their first summit, where Trump and Kim signed a joint statement agreeing to work toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, the president prematurely declared victory, tweeting that "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea." The facts did not support that claim.

The Korean conflict ended in 1953 with an armistice, essentially a cease-fire signed by North Korea, China and the 17-nation, U.S.-led United Nations Command. A peace declaration would amount to a political statement, ostensibly teeing up talks for a formal peace treaty that would involve other nations.

North and South Korea also want U.S. sanctions dialled back so they can resurrect two major symbols of rapprochement that provided $150 million US a year to the impoverished North by some estimates: a jointly run factory park in the North Korean border city of Kaesong and South Korean tours to the North's scenic Diamond Mountain resort.