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North Korea contradicts Trump on sanctions, second Kim Jong Un meeting

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HANOI, Vietnam — North Korea held a rare press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, slightly after midnight local time on Friday, at the Melia Hotel, where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stayed during his second meeting with President Donald Trump.

During the press conference, North Korean officials contradicted Trump’s summary of his discussions with Kim, which ended without a deal.

North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho, speaking in Korean but joined by two translators, said the North offered to dismantle Yongbyon — it’s primary nuclear facility. He added that Pyongyang also offered to permanently halt testing of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, but the US asked for even more.

Read more:Trump says North Korea summit collapsed because Kim demanded total sanctions relief in exchange for closing only some of his nuclear sites

Contrary to claims Trump made on Thursday in Hanoi, Ri said the North Koreans did not ask for full easing of sanctions in exchange for these actions.

Ri said, “What we proposed was not the removal of all sanctions but partial. We proposed the lifting of [some] UN sanctions. Our proposal will never change.”

The North Korean foreign minister did not comment on any questions shouted from reporters and froze briefly and smiled when he heard a question on Otto Warmbier before departing.

The statement on sanctions was much different than Trump’s assessment of the meeting earlier Thursday.

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

The president later added, “They wanted sanctions lifted but they weren’t willing to do an area that we wanted. They were willing to give us areas but not the ones we wanted.”

Trump’s meeting with Kim is being painted as a failure by some experts back in the US given North Korea walked away without agreeing to full denuclearization, especially since the president seemed to be hopeful prior to the meeting about what could be accomplished.

“Heading over to Vietnam for my meeting with Kim Jong Un. Looking forward to a very productive Summit!” Trump tweeted on Monday.

Read more: Trump’s acceptance of Kim Jong Un’s word on the death of Otto Warmbier fits a troubling pattern

The president is also facing criticism for taking Kim’s word that he didn’t know about the maltreatment of Warmbier, a US student who was detained in North Korea. Pyongyang ultimately released Warmbier and he was able to return to the US, but he was in a vegetative state and died soon after.

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