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

Battling bullying covers a lot of ground, says Safe Schools manager for Sooke School District

Jamie Adair’s background is tailor-made for the work he does with the… Continue reading

‘Not the monster everyone thinks’: Sister of human-trafficking suspect speaks out

Trish Kelly’s brother was one of four Vancouver Island residents arrested last month in Saskatchewan

UPDATED: Indigenous youth occupy B.C. Legislature steps despite court injunction

Police negotiating with people gathered in support of some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Upgrades for Colwood’s Brook Creek Dam pouring in

Improvements to mitigate risks for residents

Oak Bay ups deer management budget to $96,100 for 2020

Provincial grant approved for deer contraception program

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

Most Read