The lunch that never was: Trump’s North Korea summit falters

It was a dramatic reversal for a summit that had kicked off Wednesday with friendly greetings

The table was set, with flowers in vases and menus tucked inside white napkins. Water glasses were filled. Wicker fans provided a cool breeze.

But nobody came.

“Schedule change,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced.

That was the first indication something was up at President Donald Trump’s two-day summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

But what did it mean for the prospects of denuclearizing?

Reporters and photographers assembled to record the leaders’ lunchtime chitchat were hustled out of the room and eventually from building in anticipation of Trump’s departure.

Speculation swirled.

Was Trump staging an exit as a negotiating tactic to put more pressure on Kim? Might the two leaders appear at a joint news conference to announce progress toward a deal?

Those theories soon proved meritless. Trump and Kim’s motorcades left moments apart on diverging routes back to their hotels.

In a statement, Sanders said the summit was over. There was no deal.

The summit that had started amicably enough had collapsed.

“Sometimes you have to walk,” Trump said at a closing news conference.

It was a dramatic reversal for a summit that had kicked off Wednesday with friendly greetings, laughter and lots of arm-touching by Trump at a luxury hotel in Hanoi.

When the talks resumed Thursday morning, Kim likened the scene of the two leaders, who had once denounced one another as “Little Rocket Man” and “deranged,” sitting side by side to a “fantasy movie.”

Trump reported that at dinner the night before, there were “a lot of great ideas being thrown around.”

By lunchtime, not so much.

The two men met privately in the morning for about 35 minutes and then walked to an outdoor pool area, where they were joined by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart.

But it was humid and the air was sticky, so they moved to a glass-enclosed, air-conditioned room off the patio.

The four, plus two interpreters, spoke for about 70 minutes in what was described as an “informal” session.

Trump and Kim took a 15-minute break and then reconvened, this time with more officials.

At the start of that final meeting, journalists invited in for a photo opportunity witnessed something unheard of: Kim answering questions from foreign reporters — not just one, but several.

And then he shooed them away.

“If you would kindly give us more time between us, because you know one minute, even one minute’s more precious to us,” Kim said through a translator.

Pompeo said later that U.S. officials had been hopeful for a deal even on Thursday morning after working through the night.

“We all went back and tried to sharpen our pencils and see if we couldn’t get a little further and we actually did,” he told reporters on his plane.

But not far enough.

Next on the schedule was the lunch that never happened, followed by a signing ceremony for a joint agreement that was advertised on Trump’s public schedule. But there was nothing to sign.

Instead, Air Force One took off two hours early. Trump was returning to Washington without a deal.

Colvin reported from Washington.

Deb Riechmann And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP seek public’s help in identifying suspects responsible for keying cars in Castlegar

At least three cars have been keyed in north Castlegar in the last 24 hours

Young farmers find a home through land-matching program

Young Agrarians links would-be farmers with landowners who have land to spare

Morning start: A history of the Arrow Lakes

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Wednesday, May 27

Castlegar residents can now report minor crimes to RCMP online

New reporting tool available for Castlegar, Robson, Ootischenia, Thrums, Deer Park, Glade, Tarrys

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Most Read