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Kim Jong Un tours Hanoi after summit breakdown

Donald Trump’s much-anticipated meeting with Kim Jong Un ended abruptly and without the two leaders signing any agreements.

Kim Jong Un, left, and Nguyen Phu Trong attend a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi (Manan Vatsyayana/Pool/AP)
Kim Jong Un, left, and Nguyen Phu Trong attend a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi (Manan Vatsyayana/Pool/AP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiled broadly as he strode down a red carpet with Vietnam’s president on Friday, a day after his stunning summit breakdown with US President Donald Trump

With Mr Trump back in Washington, and both countries spinning their version of what happened during one of the most high-profile diplomatic collapses in recent years, Mr Kim seemed confident and poised he stepped out of his armoured car and embraced President Nguyen Phu Trong.

On Saturday he is expected to be driven back to the border with China where he will board his armoured train for a 60-plus-hour trip, through the sprawl of China, home to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital.

But Friday saw his car rolling beneath fluttering Vietnamese and North Korean flags – the US ones have been mostly taken down – as a large crowd jammed the city’s streets and waved flowers.

Talks between Mr Kim and Mr Trump broke down on Thursday, the second day of their two-day summit, in a dispute over how much sanctions relief Washington should provide Pyongyang in return for nuclear disarmament steps.

Despite a senior North Korean official’s suggestion in a middle-of-the-night news conference called to dispute Mr Trump’s version of the summit’s end that Mr Kim may have “lost the will” for diplomacy, the North Korean leader seems to have emerged from the diplomatic wreckage as a winner.

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North Korea Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, centre, during a press conference in Hanoi (Vincent Yu/AP)

Mr Kim stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Mr Trump at the summit and answered questions with humour and ease when confronted by an aggressive international media contingent.

And, crucially for his image at home, he stood firm on his demands for the relief of sanctions imposed over a nuclear programme North Korea says it built in the face of unrelenting US hostility meant to end its leadership.

Mr Kim, as he considers his next move after Hanoi, will also be backed by state-controlled media that were already busy portraying the summit as a victory for their leader.

They said Mr Kim and Mr Trump “appreciated that the second meeting in Hanoi offered an important occasion for deepening mutual respect and trust and putting the relations between the two countries on a new stage”.

North Korea said it had asked for partial sanctions relief in return for closing its main nuclear site at Yongbyon, an important nuclear-fuel production facility but not the only place the North is believed to make bomb fuel.

The United States also put its interpretation on the summit breakdown, with senior officials saying that North Korea wanted billions of dollars in sanctions relief in return for only partial dismantlement of Yongbyon, and demanded the North scrap more of its nuclear programme for such a high level of concessions.

PA

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