The US president boasts of being a deal maker. But his summit with Kim Jong-un in Hanoi has ended in failure and recrimination
Only a year ago, many feared that Donald Trump’s dealings with Kim Jong-un might end with a bang. Then came the Singapore summit. Mr Trump boasted that they “fell in love” and that North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat. The bromance did not look sustainable. Now a follow-up in Hanoi has ended in a whimper, collapsing without the heralded signing of at least a limited deal.
North Korea needs an easing of sanctions and wants to pursue economic development; Mr Trump wants a diplomatic triumph with his name emblazoned on it. But these powerful drivers are not enough to bridge the gulf between the sides. While North Korea speaks of denuclearisation on the peninsula, it has no intention of unilateral disarmament – as US intelligence officials note. Gestures such as halting missile tests have some value, in real terms as well as in building the relationship, and disabling the Yongbyon nuclear plant would have more; the question is how much they are worth. Many had feared Mr Trump might pay too highly, as he did in Singapore.