North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, from right, meeting with President Donald Trump in Hanoi on February 27, 2019.
HANOI, Vietnam — President Donald Trump began his summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un by tempering expectations, saying “I am in no rush” to make a comprehensive nuclear deal.
He also praised Kim for discontinuing missile launches after their first summit in Singapore last year. “We don’t want the testing. And we’ve developed something very special with respect to that.”
Kim, who like Trump used an interpreter, said that skeptics of the relationship would be watching closely and see the two leaders “side by side as if they’re watching a fancy movie.”
As NBC News first reported, U.S. negotiators entered the meetings having dropped their demand that Kim give a full accounting of his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles program, a retreat that foreign policy experts in both parties are worried Trump might make in an effort to secure the announcement of a deal from the talks.
After their one-on-one session, Kim and Trump were scheduled to meet with a larger group of officials from both sides, attend a working lunch and participate in the signing of an agreement — the details of which have not yet been announced. Trump also planned to give a press conference before departing Hanoi.
The two leaders have a number of other issues to discuss, including a possible declaration of the end of the nearly 70-year-old Korean War, the eventual removal of U.S. forces from the Korean Peninsula, and the lifting of crippling American and international economic sanctions designed to force Pyongyang to give up its weapons programs.
But it is the full, verifiable disarmament of North Korea’s nuclear program that the American side ultimately wants, and the decision to put off that pursuit — even temporarily — would amount to a significant change in the U.S. posture.
It’s also a tacit bow by Trump to the U.S. intelligence assessments, which he has publicly contradicted, that say Pyongyang is unlikely to abandon its weapons.
In a rare occurrence, Kim answered a question from an American reporter, who asked whether he was confident he could strike a deal with Trump.
“It’s too early to say,” Kim replied. “I would not say I’m pessimistic.”
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