How the Trump-Kim Summit Failed: Big Threats, Big Egos, Bad Bets – The New York Times

In retrospect, it was an important message that was obscured by the discussion of an end-of-war declaration.

What really mattered to Mr. Kim were the sanctions, which, after three new rounds in 2017, were strangling his nation’s already pitiful economy. The United States had even cut off critical humanitarian aid to the country by barring American aid groups from traveling there.

With diplomacy stalled, Mr. Trump decided to weigh in again.

Mr. Bolton announced in December that Mr. Trump wanted another summit meeting in early 2019 because North Korea had “not lived up to the commitments” it made in Singapore. To some diplomats and analysts, that seemed like a reason not to meet again.

The North Koreans appointed a former ambassador to Spain, Kim Hyok-chol, to lay the groundwork with Mr. Biegun, 55, a pragmatic former senior aide to Condoleezza Rice in the Bush administration who had been passed over for the national security adviser position in favor of Mr. Bolton.

The first meetings in Pyongyang did not go smoothly. And when the two sides met in Hanoi starting six days before the summit meeting, the North Koreans kept demanding that the five most recent rounds of sanctions imposed by the United Nations since March 2016 be lifted.

Mr. Ri, the foreign minister, said later that North Korea chose those sanctions because they affected ordinary citizens.

These sanctions, imposed to punish Pyongyang for new weapons tests, differed from previous restrictions that were focused on weapons and nuclear-related equipment. Instead, they covered entire export sectors, including minerals, metals, coal, agriculture and seafood.

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