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.

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: No think-tank report cards for the Observer

Fraser Institute’s annual school ranking isn’t a good measure of success, editor Grace Kennedy writes

LETTER: Why is Jati Sidhu ashamed of his riding?

Lytton’s Christopher di Armani shares his dismay at the potential name change of the MP’s riding

Fraser-Cascade School Board votes to invest in protecting the future of its students’ hearing

Decibel monitors to be installed in secondary schools’ machine shops as a visual guide

Kent-Harrison Foundation celebrates 25 years

The foundation started in 1994 on the promise of a two-for-one donation deal

Bucket-list flight for Chilliwack grandmother

Hampton House resident treated to a beautiful plane ride in Moments that Matter

Harrison Hot Springs students bring ‘Twelfth Night’ to life

The adaption of Shakespeare’s classic comedy include songs and phrases from Canada’s east coast

Edmonton judge to rule on whether Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Canada’s top court ruled punishment handed Khadr for alleged acts committed in Afghanistan when he was 15 was to be a youth sentence

Kootenay city councillor starts nationwide climate caucus for municipal politicians

Climate Leadership Caucus has 57 members including seven mayors

Trudeau delivers campaign-style speech while introducing candidate Taggart

The Order of British Columbia recipient said she wants to be the people’s voice in Ottawa

Stolen Bentley spotted going wrong way down highway found in Summerland

The car has been recorded going the wrong way on the Coquihalla, found two days later

15 Canadians on cruise ship that was stranded off Norway; one injured

The cruise ship was carrying 1,373 passengers and crew when it issued a mayday call on Saturday afternoon

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Bobrovsky perfect as Blue Jackets blank Canucks 5-0

Vancouver shut out for 10th time this season

Most Read