Kim returns home after failed nuclear diplomacy with Trump

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un returned home on Tuesday after traveling two and a half days by train from Vietnam, where his high-stakes nuclear summit with President Donald Trump ended without any agreement.

The Kim-Trump summit broke down mainly because of disputes over the extent of sanctions relief the North could win in return for its nuclear disarmament steps. Both Washington and Pyongyang blame each other for the summit’s breakdown, but neither side says they would pull out of diplomacy.

The crowd welcoming Kim at Pyongyang’s railway station gave shouts of joy and loud hurrahs upon his return, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

Kim received a salute from the head of the army’s honor guards and was presented with flowers from children. Senior officials also greeted Kim with “their ardent congratulations,” KCNA reported.

The report briefly mentioned Kim’s summit with Trump but didn’t say the meeting failed to produce any agreement. The North’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper previously reported that Kim and Trump had agreed to continue talks to resolve issues discussed in their Hanoi summit, but it also didn’t mention the lack of agreement in the summit.

Some observers say the North’s propaganda services won’t report about the summit’s collapse to prevent Kim from suffering any damage in his leadership at home. They say Kim is desperate to win sanctions relief to try to resolve his country’s moribund economy and improve public livelihoods.

After his summit with Trump, Kim had a two-day official visit to Vietnam that included a meeting with Vietnamese Nguyen Phu Trong and paying his respects at the embalmed body of national hero Ho Chi Minh. It was the first Vietnam visit by a North Korean leader since his late grandfather and North Korea founder Kim Il Sung went in 1964. The KCNA dispatch Tuesday called Kim Jong Un’s Vietnam visit “successful.”

The Hanoi summit between Trump and Kim followed their meeting in Singapore last June that ended with Kim’s vaguely worded promise to work toward “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

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This story has been corrected to show Kim’s travel time by train was two and a half days, not one and a half.

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