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Why the failed Hanoi summit is no cause for despair, By Andrei Lankov

Why the failed Hanoi summit is no cause for despair

The no-deal outcome is bad news, but a return to “fire and fury” remains unlikely — for now

We have always known that Donald Trump can bring us big surprises, but the outcome of this week’s Hanoi summit once again confirmed that we are dealing with a very unusual President. Until the very last moment, most observers expected that the summit would end with some sort of compromise.

Most likely, they reasoned, the North Koreans would agree to surrender some components of their nuclear program (like, say, some equipment and installations in the Yongbyon nuclear site), while the Americans would lift some of the sanctions – likely by allowing South Korea to restart some cooperation projects. There were some pessimists – the present author included. As I wrote about a month ago, there was always the possibility that the summit would end in another flop and without any meaningful compromise.

However, such opinions were rare, and even those pessimists (including yours truly) were sure that both sides would go to great lengths to hide their failure to create an impression of success.

The predictions of this handful of pessimists to which I proudly belong were closer to the actual results, but still off the mark in some important regards.

Donald Trump did admit that things did not work out well. No empty but pompous joint declaration was produced, even though President Trump in his press conference did emphasize that the failure to deliver results would not mean the end of negotiations. He assured us that working level contacts would continue in spite of everything, and even said that the position of the two sides had gotten closer during the summit.


It seems that the first question is relatively easy to answer, since Donald Trump himself provided us with his version of events.

According to Donald Trump — in an account now disputed by DPRK diplomats — during talks the North Koreans expressed their willingness to close the Yongbyon nuclear site, but expected that the U.S. would reciprocate by lifting all sanctions.

The U.S. side saw this exchange as unequal and, one would say, with good reason. It is widely known that North Korea has many nuclear facilities outside the Yongbyon site which is, frankly, increasingly outdated.

On the other hand, the sanctions are by far the most powerful pressure tool at the U.S.’s disposal. Had the U.S. President agreed to the deal, the Americans would have had no way to push North Korea to close other nuclear and missile sites.

But from the very beginning it was clear that such a deal would be unacceptable to the Americans, so one wonders why it was put on the table by the North Koreans.It is possible, but not very likely, that the North Koreans, now with China more or less behind them, have lost their appetite for negotiations.

However, this is not a very likely explanation – after all, Pyongyang has little reason to provoke confrontation, and a lot of reasons to handle Donald Trump with care. It appears far more likely that both sides simply had little time – and, perhaps, not enough will – to forge a mutually acceptable compromise this time.

Most summits are, essentially, shows, where the leaders sign documents which have been prepared well in advance by their staff.

However, Trump-Kim talks are different: for manifold reasons, both leaders prefer to negotiate themselves, pushing their diplomats aside and even ignoring what has been discussed by the mid-level officials.

In such a situation, it is conceivable that both sides were not willing to bargain for an acceptable compromise within the few hours they had at their disposal in Hanoi. Another possible explanation is that the North Koreans, until the last moment, hoped that they would be able to influence President Trump and lure him into making larger concessions.

This is one of the reasons why the North Korean side has always emphasized one-to-one interaction between two ‘supreme leaders’. Many knowledgeable people in the U.S. political elite also fear that the President would be susceptible to manipulation, pressure and flattery.

However, Donald Trump proved himself to be tougher than his detractors believed, and refused to accept what he, perhaps correctly, saw as an unbalanced and unfair deal. It did not help that in Hanoi Donald Trump learned about a massive attack mounted against him back home.

The testimony of Michael Cohen will spell much trouble for him, so it is possible that President Trump had little time for diplomatic activities and was more concentrated on ways to deal with the looming crisis in Washington DC.


Hasil gambar untuk trump kim summit in Hanoi gif

When Donald Trump was talking at his rather dramatic press conference, it was remarkable that he described Kim Jong Un in the most polite terms, and emphasized the mutual sympathy which allegedly exists between two leaders.

Among other things, he said: “I think frankly we’ll be good friends with Chairman Kim and North Korea, and I think they have tremendous potential.” He emphasized that the negotiations were conducted and ended in a friendly atmosphere: “This wasn’t a walk away like you get up and walk out. No, this was very friendly. We shook hands.”

Sure, the President said that he was not certain whether a third summit would take place – but openly committing oneself to such a summit under the current circumstances would be unnecessary and risky.

Nonetheless, President Trump emphasized that “we’ll be talking” and added “I hope our teams will get together in the days and weeks ahead and work (something) out.”

Donald Trump also said that Kim Jong Un promised him to refrain from nuclear and missile tests. Most likely this is true: the North Koreans have little to gain from provoking their neighbors with such tests now. Still, it is noteworthy that this promise was explicitly and prominently mentioned by President Trump.

Donald Trump has not switched back to his bellicose style of 2017 — for the time being, at least. While he did not try to package a diplomatic failure as a great breakthrough – as skeptics expected before the summit — he did emphasize that the problems are solvable and perhaps would be solved in due time.

It is also remarkable that at the morning of February 28, when some compromise still looked possible, Donald Trump said that we should not be “in a rush”, implying that the negotiations and disarmament process will probably take years. It will take weeks or rather months to see whether the negotiations continue at all, and if so, how fast the advance is likely to be. Slowdowns are possible and likely.

However, the basic positions and goals will hardly change: North Koreans will hope to win time, but will also hope for some compromise which will allow them to retain a significant part of the nuclear and missile stockpile while releasing them from the sanctions.

The U.S. will aim for the denuclearization of North Korea (as impossible as ever, needless to say), but will probably accept some compromises, too.


So, who are winners and losers? One has to wait until the dust will settle down, of course, but preliminary thoughts are possible.

Donald Trump is both a loser and winner. It will be more difficult for him to present himself as a miraculous deal maker, a master of international diplomacy.

On the other hand, he is likely to portray himself as a tough negotiator, always ready to protect U.S. interests. Had he signed a bad deal, as many of his opponents were afraid he would, he would invite grave critical attacks.

Kim Jong Un won some time. It seems unlikely that hard-liners in the U.S. are going to get much support from Trump now, and this is a good news for Kim. On the other hand, no sanctions relief is forthcoming, and South Korean aid/investment remains an elusive dream.

On top of that, Kim Jong Un might be in minor trouble: his propagandists will have to somehow explain to the North Korean public what happened in Hanoi, since his Vietnamese trip was presented by the Pyongyang media as a way towards some great diplomatic triumph.

However, these people are both experienced and shameless, so they will produce plausible explanations, no doubt. It is President Moon Jae-in of South Korea who suffered the worst blow, since he obviously gambled much on the possibility of sanctions relief (it looked very possible indeed until the afternoon of February 28). A planned visit to Seoul by Kim Jong Un, so much talked about in recent six months, is likely to be postponed.

Nearly all intra-Korean economic cooperation projects will be put on hold, since almost nothing can be done in this field until sanctions are lifted. As a result, President Moon’s approval ratings will slide. At any rate, the failure to reach a compromise is bad news, but one should not be in despair.

No deal is better than a bad deal, and now it seems that the failure of the Hanoi summit will not necessarily push us back to 2017-style confrontation. It is possible and indeed likely that in Hanoi we have seen a major, but not decisive, setback in the negotiations process. Talks will probably continue, albeit with some delays and at a slower speed.

This is good news, even though these negotiations will never produce what many wish for – the denuclearization of North Korea.


Top North Korean officials toured Vietnamese military-run telecom company: VNA, By Colin Zwirko

Top North Korean officials toured Vietnamese military-run telecom company: VNA

Amid a U.S.-DPRK summit, delegation also visited Agriculture Science Institute

A delegation of top North Korean officials led by Ri Su Yong toured a tech park for a Vietnamese military-run telecom company in addition to other economic sites Thursday, according to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) and other local media.

In a visit which took place on the sidelines of the second U.S.-DPRK summit in Hanoi, the delegation visited a civil equipment research and production facility run by the Viettel Group – which in January changed its name to the Viettel Military Industry and Telecoms Group – and held political meetings with local provincial officials.

The North Korean officials on Thursday also toured a production plant for the An Phat Plastic company, a local cooperative, and the Vietnam Agriculture Science Institute.

Ri, who serves as vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), toured the sites with the same top officials who the previous day visited a modern car manufacturing plant owned by the Vingroup.

On Thursday at the facilities of Viettel, the North Koreans were introduced to technology produced by the telecom giant such as 4G network systems as well as “equipment and solutions for fishermen,” according to VnExpress.

These included communication and identification devices, AIS tracking systems, personal rescue equipment, and disaster warning system, the report said.

Production of such modern fishing equipment is frequently featured in North Korean state media as a success of the DPRK’s so-called self-reliant economy.

Ri also expressed interest in further cooperation with the state-owned, military-run telecom company, according to the report, adding North Korea was “very interested in telecommunications and smart products.”

“Hopefully, after this visit, there will be other opportunities to exchange and cooperate in these fields with Viettel,” Ri reportedly said.

After holding a meeting with officials from the Hai Duong Provincial Party Committee, the North Koreans also on Thursday toured a production plant of An Phat Plastic – a company which primarily produces a range of thin plastic bags and compostable bags.

There, the delegation toured “modern packaging production lines” and “learned about the experience of economic development, especially the private economic model” of the company in Vietnam, according to a report published by parent company An Phat Holdings. Ri and other North Korean officials reportedly expressed interest in several of parent company An Phat Holdings’ current projects, including a large high-tech industrial park and a polyester fiber plant, according to a report on the visit in Tuoi Tre, one of the country’s leading newspapers.


South Korea to discuss KIC, Mt. Kumgang reopening with U.S., says President Moon, By Dagyum Ji

South Korea to discuss KIC, Mt. Kumgang reopening with U.S., says President Moon

In March 1 speech, ROK leader promises “peace-driven economy” on peninsula

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday said he plans to discuss with the U.S. ways to reopen Mount Kumgang Tourism and the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC).

Announcing his initiative for the “new Korean Peninsula regime” in a speech marking the centenary of the beginning of Korea’s March 1 independence movement, Moon said he wanted Seoul to “take on a leading role”

“The coming 100 years will differ from the past. We will push ahead with a bold transition toward a new Korean Peninsula regime and prepare for unification,” Moon told attendants at Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square. “Working together with the people and with North Korea as well, we will create a new order of peace and cooperation,” Moon said.

The “new Korean Peninsula regime” also includes a plan to establish a “new community of economic cooperation” between Seoul and Pyongyang. “I will help usher in an era of a peace-driven economy on the Korean peninsula,” the South Korean President told the crowd.

While laying out the plan for enhancing inter-Korean economic cooperation, Moon said South Korea “will consult with the U.S. on ways to resume cooperation at Kumgang mountain and the operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex.”

Ahead of the second DPRK-U.S. summit, Moon said in a phone conversation with Trump that inter-Korean cooperation could be utilized as “corresponding measures aimed at encouraging North Korea to take denuclearization steps.”

The ROK President also said Seoul is “determined to take on any role should President Trump make a request” on anything related to inter-Korean cooperation, stressing that it would be a way to reduce the burden on Washington.

September’s Pyongyang Joint Declaration saw Seoul and Pyongyang agree to normalize cooperation at the Mount Kumgang resort and the KIC as a matter of priority should “conditions mature.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in his New Year’s Address also said he was willing to restart work on those sites “without any precondition and in return for nothing.”

During his Friday speech, the South Korean President said an inter-Korean “joint economic committee will be established” when there is progress in the denuclearization process, explaining that it aims to “produce economic achievements that benefit both South and North Korea.”

A similar such organization was also established in the past: the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee was launched in 2000.

It later renamed the Joint Committee for Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation and was headed by deputy minister-level officials following the October 4 2007 Declaration.

Seoul and Pyongyang have used the organization to discuss major inter-Korean economic projects including road and rail connection, the establishment of the KIC, and Mount Kumgang.

Moon also on Friday said that the demilitarized zone (DMZ) “could be used jointly for the well-being of Koreans from both sides” by various means, including the creation of a peace park, eco-peace tourism, and other types of visits.

“This will lead to South Koreans’ free and safe trips to North Korea,” he said, adding that he, by extension, will “strive to make it possible for separated families and displaced people to visit their hometowns and meet with their relatives.”

The plan for tourism at the DMZ is part of the “New Economic Map Initiative of the Korean Peninsula” unveiled by the Moon administration in July 2017 — a plan to lay the groundwork for economic unification by resuming inter-Korean cooperation and developing a single market between the two.

That plan would see Seoul build three inter-Korean economic belts on the peninsula: an energy-resource belt on the east coast, an industry-logistics and distribution-transportation belt on the  west coast, and an environmental tourism belt in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

In addition to inter-Korean economic cooperation, the ROK President said the “new Korean Peninsula regime” means a “new community of peace and cooperation that will end confrontation and conflict.”

“We will establish a permanent peace regime without fail on the basis of our unwavering will, close ROK-U.S. coordination, a settlement in North Korea-U.S. talks, and support from the international community.”

Moon pledged that his administration assist Pyongyang and Washington to “reach a complete settlement by any means” by closely communicating and cooperation with both sides.

In a post-summit phone conversation with President Trump on Thursday, Moon was asked to actively play the role of mediator in the continuing negotiations process.

Moon said in Friday’s speech that Seoul’s role “has become even more important,” emphasizing that “surmounting many critical junctures” is required to “firmly settle” a permanent peace on the Korean peninsula.

Though the second DPRK-U.S. summit concluded on Thursday without a deal, Moon positively assessed that the meeting led to “meaningful progress” given that the two leaders had “enhanced mutual understanding and built more trust” after the lengthy dialogue.

Moon emphasized the discussion about setting up liaison offices in Pyongyang and Washington was “an important step toward the normalization of bilateral ties.”

North Korea and the U.S. previously agreed to the setting up of liaison offices in their Agreed Framework signed in October 1994, though did not ultimately follow through with that part of the deal.

The establishment of the liaison office was seen as an attempt to move toward with “full normalization of political and economic relations,” according to the agreement text.

“I believe this is part of a process to reach a higher level of agreement.”


Pre-trial held for Singaporean alleged of breaching North Korea sanctions, By Chad O’Carroll

Pre-trial held for Singaporean alleged of breaching North Korea sanctions

After ten months, a pre-trial takes place in Singapore, though proceedings closed to media

A pre-trial of a Singaporean national and his associated company, charged by authorities last July for supplying luxury goods worth approximately USD$6 million to North Korea, took place in Singapore on Thursday, NK News has confirmed.

The two court events – held in a pre-trial conference chamber and closed to media – took place after four related criminal trials were delayed, one-by-one, between January and December last year. A pre-trial meeting was then scheduled for January 2019, but delayed again until February 28.

The court told NK News on Thursday that another closed hearing will be held at 1430 on May 8 – in the same court – almost ten months since Singaporean authorities first announced charges last July.

Ng ‘Leo’ Kheng Wah, 55, was supposed to face 81 charges relating to UN sanctions violations and 80 charges relating to cheating and conspiracy on August 30, it was revealed last July.

A company he directed, T Specialist, was due to face 88 related charges.

Though previous delays in the trial going ahead were unclear – and attributed by some to the politically-sensitive nature of the case – a court source told NK News in January that such delays were common in the Singaporean court system.

Ng and his T Specialist company have been accused of involvement in over 200 North Korea-linked offenses stretching between 2010 and 2017, a particularly long time for activities to have gone by undetected by Singaporean authorities.

“If I ever did anything illegal over these years, the government would have looked for me,” Ng told the Straits Times in July after initial NK Pro investigation revealed the role he and his companies played in exporting sanctioned luxury goods to North Korea.

But it’s possible that the more recent delays could be linked to the case of Singaporean national Chong ‘Richard’ Hock Yen and three of his companies, who on October 18, 2018, were charged by Singaporean authorities for also playing a role in supplying prohibited luxury goods to North Korea.

NK Pro understands from multiple informed sources that Chong and his companies had in the past conducted transactions with Ng’s OCN company and Singaporean charge sheets show he also provided goods to the OCN-linked Bugsae shop in Pyongyang.

“Our client has complied with all applicable laws and regulations and unequivocally deny any allegations to the contrary,” Chern Yang See, the lawyer formerly representing OCN / T Specialist director Ng ‘Leo’ Kheng Wah, told NK Pro in August last year before subsequently parting ways with his client.

Pictures exclusively revealed by NK Pro in 2017 showed two Pyongyang stores linked to Ng’s OCN company stacked with brands including Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Burberry, and Montblanc.

Japanese brands for sale at the stores – forbidden by the country’s law – included Sony, Panasonic, Yamaha, Seiko, and Pokka, as well as flat-screen TVs, laptops, jewelry, and cameras on display.

Despite the charges, the shops Ng’s company allegedly shipped products to remain open in North Korea, and continue to sell Singaporean-sourced goods, informed sources in Pyongyang told NK News in February.


Pompeo says no plans yet for further meetings with North Korea, By Leo Byrne

Pompeo says no plans yet for further meetings with North Korea

But U.S. Secretary of State adds that some progress was made in Hanoi, despite lack of agreement

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said there were no immediate plans for further meetings with North Korea, though appeared optimistic they could happen at a later date.

Pompeo made the comments during a presser aboard a flight from Hanoi to the Phillippines, following the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump which ended with no new agreement.

“We haven’t set a date. My sense is it will take a little while. We’ll each need to regroup a little bit,” Pompeo told reporters.

“But I’m very hopeful that Special Representative (Stephen) Biegun and that team will get together before too long … But we’ll see … there has to be a reason for the conversations.”

The negotiations between the two sides fell apart over sanctions, Trump said at a press conference after the summit.

North Korea wanted all restrictions against the country lifted, but weren’t willing to give Washington the “areas” they wanted with regards denuclearization, Trump said.

“We just felt it wasn’t appropriate to sign an agreement today… we could have, but I just felt it wasn’t very appropriate,” Trump told reporters.

“You always have to be prepared to walk,” he later said.

But despite the impasse, Pompeo indicated that some progress was made both in the run-up to the summit and during the negotiations.

“There has to be a theory of the case about how to move forward,” Pompeo told reporters.

“I’m confident that there is one. I’ve seen enough congruence between what the two sides are trying to accomplish. I saw the goodwill between the two leaders, and so I hope we can come up with a plan.”

Despite Pompeo admitting that Washington had hoped for more from the summit, he added that there was still a “basis for believing that we can move forward” with the negotiations.

In the run-up to the summit, Washington shifted its tone on sanctions slightly and indicated that some measure of relief could be on the table in exchange for something significant from Pyongyang.

But on February 24, Pompeo also clarified the statement saying that some measures would stay in place until North Korea fully denuclearized.

“Core economic sanctions… are definitely going to remain in place,” Pompeo told CNN.

He referred to sanctions that “prevent countries from conducting trade, creating wealth for North Korea,” while appearing to suggest that some could be relaxed should Pyongyang take substantial steps towards denuclearization.


U.S., North Korea “deepen mutual respect and trust” in Hanoi summit: KCNA, By Colin Zwirko

U.S., North Korea “deepen mutual respect and trust” in Hanoi summit: KCNA

State media highlights denuclearization goal, says two sides will “continue productive dialogues”

North Korean state-run media gave a largely positive review of Thursday’s summit meetings in Hanoibetween Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, calling it an event of “great significance in building mutual trust.”

A report published Friday by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) referred multiple times to the goals of creating a new relationship and to “completely denuclearize” the Korean Peninsula as spelled out in the Singapore agreement signed last June.

“Remarkable progress” has been made on these fronts since then, it said, adding that the two leaders had a “constructive and candid exchange” in their meetings in Vietnam over the practical issues in developing their relations.

Thursday’s talks, the second day of the second Trump-Kim summit in nine months, “offered an important occasion to deepen mutual respect and trust and to put the relations between the two countries on a new stage,” the KCNA report said.

Emphasizing a positive outcome from the talks, the report repeated that “proactive measures” from both sides since last summer to “preserve peace on the Korean peninsula and completely denuclearize it were of great significance in building mutual trust and making a fundamental turn” in their relations.

But it also appeared to signal an existing sense of urgency to come to an agreement despite the two sides’ failure to reach a deal in Hanoi, saying that Kim and Trump “listened to each other’s views on the issues to be resolved without fail at the present phase.”

The two leaders “agreed to keep in close touch with each other for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” and the further development of relations, the report said.

The two sides will also “continue productive dialogues for settling the issues discussed at the Hanoi Summit,” it added.

Images of Trump and Kim Jong Un’s second day of meetings, along with the KCNA article, were also carried on the front page of ruling party-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Friday, suggesting that Kim Jong Un hopes to project the summit as a success to the domestic audience.

But North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho offered a more critical take on the summit’s outcome in a midnight press conference from Hanoi on Thursday – criticisms which did not make it into Friday morning’s state media coverage.

From Hanoi, Ri said the two sides failed to come to an agreement due to unwillingness from the U.S. to lift economic sanctions put in place since 2016.

“In detail, we proposed the United States lift five sanctions resolutions – which were adopted between 2016 and 2017 and impede the civilian economy and the livelihood of our people – among 11 UN sanctions resolutions all together,” Ri told reporters.

In exchange, North Korea was offering to “permanently and completely dismantle all of the nuclear material production facilities in the Yongbyon area including plutonium and uranium in the presence of U.S. experts and a joint work of technicians from both countries,” according to Ri.


The Hanoi summit: experts react, By Hamish Macdonald

The Hanoi summit: experts react
DPRK watchers weigh in on the second Trump-Kim meeting summit and the apparent impasse in Hanoi 

The second U.S.-DPRK summit held in Hanoi, Vietnam on February 27 and 28 ended early and without a joint declaration or the signing of an agreement between the two sides.

The impasse seemed, according to both sides, centered around sanctions relief for the DPRK. While U.S. President Donald Trump said that they could not agree to North Korean demands that sanctions be removed in their entirety, a subsequent press conference from Ri Yong Ho, the North Korean foreign minister, addressed this further.

According to Ri, the North Koreans wanted sanctions relief focusing on the previous five UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposed during 2016 and 2017 and offered the verified dismantlement of parts of Yongbyon in return.

Trump had mentioned that the U.S. required movement on other areas outside of Yongbyon as well, but that North Korea was not willing to do so.

As the dust settles on what was a highly anticipated but anti-climactic event, NK News spoke to four experts to gather views on the second summit as well as prospects and prescriptions for what appears to be a more uncertain path moving forward.

The following North Korea watchers responded in time for our deadline:

  • Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy at the Arms Control Association
  • Danny Russel, Vice President, International Security and Diplomacy at the Asia Society and the former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Hoo Chiew Ping, Senior Lecturer in Strategic Studies and International Relations, National University of Malaysia (UKM)
  • Stephan Haggard, Director of the Korea-Pacific Program at IR/PS

Does the summit outcome come as a surprise to you and how do you account for this lack of tangible progress?

Kelsey Davenport: The Hanoi outcome is a setback to U.S-North Korean negotiations, but not a complete surprise nor a death blow to diplomacy. Going into the summit there were clearly gaps between the U.S. and North Korean positions on a deal trading dismantlement of Yongbyon for sanctions relief and not enough time to resolve them. But it’s unclear if Trump and Kim failed to bridge the divide or if either leader attempted to change the parameters at the last minute.

Regardless of the reason, failure to reach agreement on next steps at Hanoi underscores the importance of transitioning talks from the head-of-state level to a working-group led process that empowers the negotiating teams to pick up where Trump and Kim left off and reach agreement on next steps. Diplomacy stalled after Singapore in part because Trump and Kim failed to establish an effective process to advance the agreed upon goals of denuclearization and peacebuilding. Hopefully, Trump and Kim did not make that same mistake in Hanoi.

Danny Russel: I am pleasantly surprised that Trump walked away from a dangerously lopsided deal that would have traded sanctions relief for one nuclear site, Yongbyon. The lack of progress is best explained by Benjamin Franklin’s aphorism that “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” There was no foundation laid for the summit through diplomatic negotiations.


Hoo Chiew Ping: It is not surprising and should be expected as hopes were high to reach a substantive deal, so when both sides couldn’t commit to the big steps, shortfall like this is normal.



Stephan Haggard: I certainly did not predict a no-deal outcome, but at the same time it is not altogether surprising either. Typically the outcome of summits is pre-cooked; 95% of the work has already been done by the Sherpas.

In this case, however, the North Koreans have been signaling that they prefer to negotiate with the president and have been slow-walking both high-level and technical talks. It is possible that when the history is written, it was the North Koreans who erred, believing they could extract more concessions from Trump than he and his team was willing to give.

Trump has said that he does not want to place further sanctions on North Korea, and that he would “love” to get rid of them but that sanctions remain a sticking point. How do you see the future of maximum pressure and sanctions enforcement now?

Kelsey Davenport: The prospects for the U.S. maximum pressure campaign diminished when Trump irresponsibly declared post-Singapore that North Korea no longer constituted a nuclear threat. If North Korea continues to refrain from overt provocations, such as nuclear and missile testing, and Trump continues to lavish praise on Kim Jong Un, sanctions enforcement is likely to continue slipping.

This is why it’s critical for the Trump administration to act with urgency. Trump may claim that he is in no rush to reach a deal, but a drawn-out process plays in Pyongyang’s favor. The United States loses leverage over time as sanctions enforcement weakens and North Korea rebuilds diplomatic relationships. North Korea sanctions also do not exist in a vacuum. States are increasingly frustrated with what is perceived as U.S. overreach on sanctions, particularly in light of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on that country, despite Tehran’s compliance. This sentiment that U.S. sanctions are infringing on sovereignty contributes to poor enforcement of North Korea measures.

Danny Russel: By embracing Kim in Singapore last June and legitimizing him as a someone he “loves” and respects, Trump has effectively transformed “maximum pressure” into “minimum pressure.”

The sanctions remain on the books and undoubtedly annoy Kim Jong Un, but sanctions enforcement has sagged and North Korean workarounds have proliferated as its international isolation erodes. Kim has won considerable breathing space, and can be confident that key countries like China, Russia, Vietnam and South Korea are unlikely to resume vigorous sanctions enforcement.

Hoo Chiew Ping: The U.S. team was willing to offer partial sanctions exemptions for North Korea this time in response to North Korea side’s consistent call for it since the Singapore Summit.

I believe Trump is going to keep the concession up for offer as part of the deal, and he’s willing to see exemptions that would enable North Korea to go forward with inter-Korean economic cooperation and potentially aid for development by other countries.

Stephan Haggard: As the President said clearly, the sanctions will technically remain in place. The big question, however, is whether the sanctions regime will erode in fact.

I suspect Beijing will keep at least a modicum of pressure on North Korea, enforcing the sanctions to some extent while extending adequate credit to assure that the country does not go under. The loser is South Korea: it will now be hard to move inter-Korean projects forward as it would be seen as outright defection from the Hanoi assessment that progress was inadequate.

Where, in your opinion, does diplomacy go from here, and does this empower or weaken lower-level U.S.-DPRK working groups?

Kelsey Davenport: It’s positive that both Trump and Pompeo emphasized that dialogue will continue and are optimistic about the prospects for progress. Both the United States and North Korea have invested heavily in this diplomatic process and it appears, in the proposals referenced by Trump and Ri, that there is a basis for agreement on a deal that trades dismantlement of Yongbyon for limited sanctions relief.

Ideally, the Hanoi outcome will underscore for both Trump and Kim that intensive working-level negotiations are necessary to close gaps and a better forum for hammering out details free from the intensive scrutiny that comes with a head-of-state summit. If both leaders publicly direct their negotiators to meet again and as soon as possible, that would send a significant signal that Trump and Kim remain committed to reaching a diplomatic outcome.

Danny Russel: At this point it will be no easy matter to persuade North Korea to move quickly, to deal with U.S. negotiators rather than with Trump directly, or to accept that its entire nuclear and missile program must be on the table.

The U.S. has squandered leverage and incentivized North Korea to hold out for more. But the decision to walk away calmly was the right one. Dropping all sense of urgency merely because the North has suspended testing was a mistake, particularly since its manufacturing and R&D work has not been halted.

Researchers at RAND calculate that in 2018 during the North’s moratorium on testing, it has increased the size and destructive power of its nuclear arsenal by some 70 percent. Time is not our friend here and it will not be easy to prevent North Korea from simply running down the clock on the Trump Administration — particularly given Trump’s massive legal and political woes.

Hoo Chiew Ping: I think Trump may have misinformed high expectations of North Korea to take up his offer during this Hanoi Summit. For anyone familiar with North Korean negotiation tactic, if the demand was met exactly the way it’s asked for, you’ll get the deal (think Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush).

If there was additional demand on top of a pre-agreed offer, it would frustrate North Korea and counter with counter demand that they know it’d be impossible for an adversary to comply (e.g. from partial sanctions relief to complete removal of all sanctions). This would definitely have an impact on the lower level working group negotiation, the purpose of the summit is for the leaders to lay down the concrete groundwork for their staff to work on. A bottom-up process would not work well for this set of leaders.

Stephan Haggard: Oddly, we are no worse off than we were. Diplomacy will now try to clean up the appearance of no progress. I suspect that the third time around, though, a deal will be clearly nailed down prior to a summit.



What next steps would you advise U.S. negotiators to take following this apparent impasse?

Kelsey Davenport: It is critical for U.S. negotiators act quickly to engage with North Korean counterparts before the momentum of the summit and Trump’s optimism is lost. Both Trump and Ri indicated that deal swapping dismantlement of Yongbyon for some sanctions relief is possible and desirable as a next step, so it makes sense for negotiators to focus on the details of declaring, inspecting, and dismantling the facilities at that site and determining which sanctions could be lifted in return.

The U.S. negotiating team must also do a better job keeping Congress in the loop on the Hanoi developments and the approach to negotiations going forward. The Trump administration’s hand at the negotiating table is strengthened by Congressional support, but weakened if it appears Congress will oppose any inducements the United States puts on the table.

Danny Russel: Unless the Administration can reestablish lost leverage with North Korea, there is relatively little that U.S. negotiators can do to get traction. Step one is ending China-bashing, settling the trade war, and tightening coordination among the five key partners.

Second is a concerted effort to implement and enforce the existing sanctions, particularly on China’s part.

Third is signaling plans to resume normal joint US-ROK defense exercises and stop the President’s misguided denigrating of the U.S. military and his weakening of our deterrence posture.

Hoo Chiew Ping: “The art of the deal” in international politics would be about providing incentives to convince your adversary that you are working with them under conciliatory terms but really you are actually doing a forceful persuasion (framed as coercive diplomacy) dealing from the position of power, without appearing condescending.

The “success” of the first summit is due to the face-giving gestures offered by Trump to meet Kim. The shortfall during the second summit is due to the abuse of the power of information (a.k.a. we know where your sites are so can we raise the price higher now). It’s time to go back to the pre-Hanoi consensus where both sides are willing to take up each other’s offer to move forward with the first step. I thought partial sanctions exemptions for Yongbyon inspection would be a good enough deal before we can tackle the tougher issues.

Stephan Haggard: This question should also be asked of the North Koreans; we cannot assume that the standoff was simply the result of U.S. miscalculation. The interesting question is whether Kim Jong Un miscalculated or whether he faces his own internal redlines that he couldn’t cross. I don’t personally think that Hanoi was a disaster or the end of the road. It sounds like some progress was made and that it is likely to continue.

The questions will shift to the political front. How do the Democrats play this? As a failure, or will they be tolerant if they can be shown that negotiations will move ahead. Democrats should be cautious and not form a judgment until briefed on what—if anything—was accomplished in Hanoi. We should not assume it was nothing.

How North Korean TV covered the Kim-Trump summit – Thursday and Friday, By Martyn Williams

How North Korean TV covered the Kim-Trump summit – Thursday and Friday

DPRK TV hinted at disappointment over the Kim-Trump meeting’s outcomes

Korean Central Television didn’t deviate from its typical coverage plan on Thursday and spent the day reporting on Kim Jong Un’s activities from a day earlier, so viewers were unaware of the outcome of his summit with Donald Trump until it signed on for broadcasting on Friday.

KCTV was on air from 1500 to 2030 on Thursday and broadcast four times a three-minute special news bulletin anchored by Ri Chun Hee that covered Kim’s dinner with Trump and his visit to the North Korean embassy in Hanoi. As has been observed throughout the trip so far, the TV station chose not to illustrate the reports with still images, despite the images being present on the front pages of major North Korean newspapers.

So, while the DPRK-U.S. summit ended early, viewers in North Korea continued to see day-old news throughout Thursday. It wasn’t until they awoke on Friday that they heard the first reports on the summit, either through radio, newspaper or TV reports.

As Friday is the first day of the month, Korean Central TV began broadcasting at 0900 instead of the usual 1500 and the first order of business was the summit report. Interestingly, the TV station didn’t use Ri Chun Hee, despite her being used for all the headline news from Kim’s Vietnam trip so far.Instead it fell to one of the station’s other senior female anchors to announce that Trump and Kim had decided to continue talking.

The bulletin is scheduled to be broadcast again at 1300, 1700, 2000 and 2217 on Friday.

The switch from Ri to another anchor could be seen as a signal from the government that the news out of Vietnam was a little disappointing as Ri is only on-air these days to announce the biggest, most important stories.

Clearly, a decision to continue talks wasn’t quite enough success to warrant putting her back on screen.

It will be interesting to see if subsequent coverage from Vietnam, where Kim is spending two more days on an official visit, will make use of still images to illustrate the reports.

It will also be interesting to see how much of the post-summit documentary that KCTV is expected to air will focus on the meeting with Trump versus the rest of Kim’s activities in the country.

That is expected to air within one or two days after he returns.


North Korean FM says Pyongyang asked for “partial” sanctions relief, By Leo Byrne

North Korean FM says Pyongyang asked for “partial” sanctions relief
Ri Yong Ho says North Korean proposal “will never be changed” 

Correction 14:10 EST: An earlier version of this article did not include the specific quote pertaining to what North Korea offered the U.S. for sanctions relief. This has been amended. 

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Thursday disputed Washington’s account that North Korea had asked for all sanctions to be removed in order for negotiations to progress.

Speaking at a surprise, late press conference in Hanoi given after midnight local time, the DPRK foreign minister said Pyongyang had asked for “partial” sanctions relief.

“What we proposed was not the removal of all sanctions but their partial removal,” Ri told assembled reporters.

“In detail, we proposed the United States lift five sanctions resolutions – which were adopted between 2016 and 2017 and impede the civilian economy and the livelihood of our people – among 11 UN sanctions resolutions all together.”

In exchange for the sanctions relief, North Korea’s foreign minister said that Pyongyang would “permanently and completely dismantle all of the nuclear material production facilities in the Yongbyon area including plutonium and uranium in the presence of U.S. experts and a joint work of technicians from both countries.”

North Korea, he said, had also expressed the “intention to make the commitment on the permanent halt of nuclear testing and long-range rocket launch testing in the format of the document to lessen the concern of the United States.”

Earlier in the day, U.S. President Donald Trump also gave a press conference where he told journalists that sanctions had been the sticking point for the negotiations despite a potential offer for denuclearization developments at Yongbyon.

“He wants the sanctions for that, and as you know there’s plenty left after that, and I just felt it wasn’t good,” he explained.

“We had to have more than that,” he continued, adding the U.S. had discovered many more facilities that would also need to be dismantled.

Ri added that Washington had requested an additional step beyond the dismantlement of North Korea’s Yongbyon facility and so was not ready to accept Pyongyang’s proposal.

The North Korean foreign minister also sounded more pessimistic on the chance of further talks that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier in the day.

“It will be difficult to say whether there might be a better agreement than the one based on our proposal at the current stage,” Ri said.

“Such first stage of the process is inevitable in the path toward the complete denuclearization and we must undergo the process of implementing the best proposal set forth by us. Our principled stand will remain invariable and our proposal will never be changed even though the United States proposes negotiations again in the future.”

While there are numerous UN resolutions issued under the 1718 Committee aimed at limiting North Korea’s abilities to fund and develop nuclear weapons dating back 2006, many of the more stringent measures were introduced in the resolutions issued throughout 2016 and 2017.

Rolling back the most recent resolutions would likely have a disproportionate effect on the sanctions regime, as the earlier documents were much narrower in scope and mainly targeted companies, practices and techniques involved in the North’s weapon smuggling or nuclear procurement programs.

The more stringent sets of sanctions were applied in the hope of limiting North Korea’s ability to generate funds from mineral and raw material exports, though are now relatively broad and prevent the DPRK from purchasing machinery, and equipment.

This week MHI-NK News on the podcast:

Making sense of the no-deal summit – Ep.60

Making sense of the no-deal summit – NKNews Podcast Ep.60

Fresh from covering the dramatic events in Hanoi, our journalists share some initial impressions

The second summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump is over, concluding, much to everyone’s surprise, with the two sides failing to come to an agreement.

In a special round-table podcast recorded on the ground in Hanoi, NK News CEO and founder Chad O’Carroll, managing editor Oliver Hotham, and senior correspondent Dagyum Ji discussed the results of the dramatic Kim-Trump meeting, as well as share some impressions from two days of summitry.

About the podcast: The “North Korea News Podcast” is a weekly podcast hosted exclusively by MHI-NK News, covering all things DPRK: from news to extended interview with leading experts and analysts in the field and insight from our very own journalists.


Women and human rights in the DPRK – Ep.59

Women and human rights in the DPRK – NKNews Podcast Ep.59

Dr. Jay Song discusses the DPRK’s key women players and chronic human rights problem

As Trump and Kim Jong Un prepared for their second summit in Hanoi, we sat down with Jay Song, a Senior Lecturer in Korean Studies at the University of Melbourne, last week, to talk about the increasingly salient role that women have in helping the oppressive Kim regime improve its international image while it continues its diplomatic outreach.

Case in point: Kim Jong Un’s wife Ri Sol Ju and younger sister Kim Yo Jong.

Meanwhile, human rights continue to remain a chief obstacle to North Korea’s integration with the rest of the world, Song says, which is largely due to how human rights are defined, the order in which they are prioritized, and one’s belief whether or not such rights are universal or endowed.

About the podcast: The “North Korea News Podcast” is a weekly podcast hosted exclusively by MHI-NK News, covering all things DPRK: from news to extended interview with leading experts and analysts in the field and insight from our very own journalists.



Top MHI-NK Stories from around the web:

N. Korean leader to leave Hanoi on Saturday morning: source (Yonhap News)

Hasil gambar untuk N. Korean leader to leave Hanoi on Saturday morning: source

Kim plans to leave for a border train station in Dong Dang at around 10 a.m. Saturday, wrapping up his two-day official visit to Vietnam, according to the source. Vietnam’s foreign ministry had earlier said Kim would head back to Pyongyang on Saturday afternoon.

It has not been confirmed yet whether Kim’s return schedule change is related to the outcome of the summit with Trump earlier this week.

They finished the session abruptly around noon Thursday without issuing a joint statement.

Kim has stayed at his luxury hotel without issuing any public message in person since the summit.

The country’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, instead held a sudden late-night press conference and said his regime demanded partial sanctions relief for its dismantlement of the Yongbyon nuclear complex in the negotiations.

He was countering Trump’s statement that Pyongyang had called for the lifting of all sanctions against it, a price he wouldn’t pay for the Yongbyon facilities alone.

The two sides, however, reaffirmed a commitment to continued dialogue.

Kim is scheduled to hold summit talks with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong on Friday afternoon after inspecting an honor guard in front of the presidential palace, the source said.

He will also meet with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, followed by a banquet.

Another source said Kim may visit the Vietnam-DPRK Friendship Kindergarten in Hanoi earlier in the day. DPRK is the initialism of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Before departure on Saturday morning, Kim plans a brief visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which commemorates the former leader of the Southeast Asian nation.

Kim is the first North Korean leader in 55 years to make a bilateral visit to Vietnam. His late grandfather, Kim Il-sung, who founded North Korea, traveled to the country in 1958 and 1964.

Kim is expected to focus on strengthening relations between Pyongyang and Hanoi during the rest of his stay. Vietnam is said to be a potential model for his impoverished communist nation that’s in a desperate but troubled pursuit of economic growth.

He’s apparently taking a similar trip back to his 66-hour journey to Hanoi. There’s a possibility that he will stop in Beijing for talks with President Xi Jinping.


Pelosi on North Korea talks: ‘I’m glad that the president walked away’ (CNN)

Hasil gambar untuk Pelosi on North Korea talks: 'I'm glad that the president walked away'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued on Thursday that Kim Jong Un was “a big winner” in the latest negotiations…since he once again had the opportunity to “sit face to face” with the President of the United States, but she said that Trump did the right thing by ultimately walking away from the talks.

The President has been in Hanoi, Vietnam, for a summit that ended with no joint agreement between the US and North Korea after Kim insisted all US sanctions be lifted on his country.
“What we want is denuclearization,” Pelosi said at her weekly news conference, referring to the US goal of getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. “They didn’t agree to it in the first meeting. They didn’t agree to it in the second meeting. They wanted lifting sanctions without denuclearization. I’m glad that the President walked away from that.”
Trump said that Kim offered to take some steps toward dismantling his nuclear arsenal, but not enough to warrant ending sanctions imposed on the country.
“Sometimes you have to walk,” Trump said during a news conference following the conclusion of the summit, which broke up earlier than planned. “This was just one of those times.”
But despite saying she was glad the President walked away from the talks, Pelosi sounded a skeptical note over Trump’s diplomatic efforts with North Korea, saying that “Kim Jong Un is not on the level” and suggesting that he benefited the most from being elevated on the world stage by the talks.
“The President is returning from Vietnam, from his meeting with Kim Jong Un. I guess it took two meetings for him to realize that Kim Jong Un is not on the level,” she said. “He was a big winner, Kim Jong Un, in getting to sit face to face with the most powerful person in the world, the President of the United States. And really it’s good that the President did not give him anything for the little that he was proposing.”

Pelosi was also critical of comments by the President that seemed to defend Kim over the treatment of Otto Warmbier, an American student who spent 17 months in North Korean detention before being returned to the US in a vegetative state and subsequently dying.

Trump denied that Kim had been aware of the incident when asked about Warmbier.
“He felt badly about it. He felt very badly,” Trump said. “He tells me that he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word.”
“I don’t think that the top leadership knew about it,” Trump added. “I don’t believe that he (Kim) would have allowed that to happen.”
Pelosi initially she said she wasn’t aware of what Trump had said when asked about it at her weekly news conference, but when a reporter summarized the comments, she called it “strange.”
“I don’t think Kim Jong Un is on the level and the President has believed Putin as opposed to believing his own intelligence leadership on subjects. So again, I didn’t know the President had said that, but it’s strange,” she said, referencing Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump has previously sided with Putin over the conclusion of US intelligence agencies, which have assessed that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
“There’s something wrong with Putin, Kim Jong Un, in my view, thugs, that the President chooses to believe,” Pelosi said.

Rival Parties Express Hope for Swift Resumption of US-North Talks (KBS)

Rival Parties Express Hope for Swift Resumption of US-North Talks

Ruling Democratic Party spokesperson Hong Ihk-pyo said on Thursday that it is regretful the two sides failed to reach a Hanoi declaration, but he hopes they can make an agreement through a new round of talks at the earliest time possible.He said the DP will review what it can do with the government to improve relations between Washington and Pyongyang and to expedite denuclearization.

The spokesperson for the main opposition Liberty Korean Party also said he hopes talks resume as soon as possible for the denuclearization of the North.

LKP chief Hwang Kyo-ahn was less optimistic. He said it is regretful the summit fell apart without an agreement as he had anticipated discussions on steps for the North’s denuclearization. He said the South Korean government had only talked about a rosy illusion, but the results show the gravity of the North’s nuclear situation.

Group claims establishment of NK provisional government (Korea Herald)

Free Joseon announced Friday that it has established a provisional government for North Korea in an effort to fight against the regime’s abuse of human rights. The group previously claimed it had protected the son of the late Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, from possible assassination.

Formerly known as Cheollima Civil Defense, the group said it will rise against the North Korean regime for committing crimes against humanity for decades.
“We indict this immoral and illegitimate regime for the devastating starvation of millions, despite the ability to feed them; For government-sponsored murder, torture, and imprisonment; For overwhelming surveillance and thought-control,” the group said on its website.

In an online note titled “Declaration for a Free Joseon,” the group attached a video clip featuring a women standing on a Korean traditional pavilion and reading aloud the same text from the site. It appears to have been filmed in South Korea.

The announcement came as South Korea marks the 100th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement, which took place in 1919 calling for Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule.

Free Joseon called for North Korean diaspora around the world to join its revolution to defy oppressors and seek freedom.

“We reject the chains of our historic unrequited grief, declare henceforth a new era in our history, and prepare the way for a New Joseon. We therefore proclaim the birth of our revolution and our intentions towards building a more just and equal society, as truest expressions of the shared affections of our people,” it said.

The Joseon Kingdom lasted from 1392-1897, and “Joseon” is still used by North Koreans and Koreans living in China in referring to the peninsula.

The group has not revealed details about itself, including the names of members or their locations, but it is believed to be a network helping North Korean defectors.

In March 2017, Cheollima Civil Defense released a video of Kim Han-sol, saying that he was with his mother and sister following the assassination of his father, Kim Jong-nam. The half brother of Kim Jong-un was assassinated at a Malaysian airport two years ago.

Ted Lieu denounces #TrumpFail hashtag despite normally being critic of president (Associated Press)

Hasil gambar untuk Ted Lieu denounces #TrumpFail hashtag despite normally being critic of president

Rep. Ted Lieu, normally an outspoken critic of President Trump, called the trending #TrumpFail hashtag “inappropriate” following the president’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The California Democrat tweeted Thursday that despite citizens’ views on the president, Americans should “want America to succeed.”

“The hashtag #TrumpFail is trending and I find it inappropriate,” Mr. Lieu wrote. “People should not be hoping the President fails or taking pleasure in his failure on the global stage. Whether you like [Mr. Trump] or not, he represents America in foreign affairs.”

Mr. Trump’s second denuclearization summit with Mr. Kim fell apart Thursday in a dispute over lifting economic sanctions, cutting short two days of talks aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s weapons program.

After several hours of discussions, Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim abruptly parted ways over North Korea’s demand that the U.S. lift crushing sanctions in exchange for something less than the full dismantling of all Pyongyang’s weapons sites.

“Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that,” Mr. Trump said at a press conference in Hanoi. “They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we want, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that.”

Mr. Lieu has made himself known as a staunch critic of the president, to the point that his Twitter cover photo is a side-by-side comparison of former President Barack Obama’s and Mr. Trump’s inaugurations showing a larger crowd at Mr. Obama’s in 2009.

However, Mr. Lieu has offered some backing for Mr. Trump, including the president’s call to withdraw the U.S. military from Syria.


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