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Hanoi summit: N. Korea desperate to save negotiations at last minute

Hanoi summit: N. Korea desperate to save negotiations at last minute

Posted March. 08, 2019 08:01,   

Updated March. 08, 2019 08:01


CNN unveiled Wednesday the last minutes before the U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi were called off, quoting various administrative sources. “The snub was indicative of the North Koreans' approach to diplomacy - a capricious negotiating style that reared its head once again at the end of the summit in the form of a last-ditch attempt from the North Koreans to draw Trump back to the negotiating table,” reported CNN. The title of the article explicitly described the situation: “A snub and a last minute Hail Mary.”

When Trump was about to leave the Hanoi Metropole Hotel two days later on February 28, North Korea rushed to prevent the talks from breaking down. North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choi Son Hui hurriedly brought the U.S. delegation a message from Kim, according three sources. The U.S. and North Korean officials had been haggling over a shared definition of the sprawling, three-square-mile site and the last-minute overture sought to advance the North Koreans' proposal for dismantling it.

But the message did not make clear whether the North Koreans shared the U.S.'s expansive definition of the facility and U.S. officials asked for clarity. Choi rushed back to get an answer. Kim replied that it included everything on the site. But even when Choi returned with that response, the U.S. delegation was unimpressed and didn't want to resume the negotiations. Within hours, Trump would be wheels up for Washington.

Trump had left Hanoi despite Kim’s answer because it was not what the U.S. wanted, which was more than about Yongbyon. While the U.S. demanded a more comprehensive level of denuclearization, North Korea had no option other than dismantling Yongbyon facilities, The Washington Post reported.

Mi-Kyung Jung mickey@donga.com