Trump-Kim talks in question as Hanoi summit abruptly cut short

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in talks during the Hanoi Summit. (AFP pic)

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s summit with Kim Jong-un was abruptly cut short on Thursday, jeopardising talks on North Korea’s nuclear program.

Trump’s news conference will now be held at 2 pm local time instead of 4 pm, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters in Hanoi.

The two leaders had earlier planned to sign a joint agreement at 2 pm.

Asked if there will be a joint declaration, Sanders said that “negotiations were ongoing.”

Reporters were removed from what was supposed to be a working lunch between Trump, Kim and their aides.

It remained unclear what prompted the schedule change.

South Korean’s currency and stocks fell after reports of the schedule change broke, with the benchmark Kospi index extending losses to as much as 1.5%.

Trump earlier downplayed hopes for a breakthrough in nuclear talks at the start of his second summit with Kim, who interacted with US reporters for the first time.

“Speed’s not that important to me,” Trump said as the pair sat down for talks at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi.

“No rush. We just want to do the right deal.”

The leaders took questions from reporters on multiple occasions, and Kim answered several – an unusual occurrence for the young dictator, who has only recently begun to engage with the world.

Trump called the talks so far “very productive” and said, “the relationship is as good as it’s ever been.”

“There are people remaining sceptical about this meeting,” Kim said in Korean in introductory remarks.

“All of them will be watching this moment together as if they are watching a fantasy movie.”

“Let me assure you I will do all my best to bring a good result ultimately,” he added.

In response to questions, Kim said he wouldn’t be at the summit if he wasn’t willing to denuclearise, and said that the US and North Korea establishing respective diplomatic offices in each other’s countries would be a “welcome idea,” without committing to it.

At one point, Trump asked reporters not to shout questions at Kim.

“This isn’t like dealing with Trump,” the president joked.

After answering a couple of questions, Kim asked Trump if journalists could leave the room.

“Even one minute is precious to us,” he said in Korean.

The summit was organised in Hanoi in haste after Trump announced the meeting on Feb 8, and the White House has sought to lower expectations.

Possible outcomes include a joint declaration that the US and North Korea are no longer at war, a nonbinding agreement that wouldn’t officially replace the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War.