By Jon Dougherty

President Donald Trump on Friday repeated earlier claims that his relationship the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is still “very good” despite not making a deal with his government regarding denuclearization during meetings this week in Hanoi, Vietnam, as part of their second summit.

What’s more, the president also pushed back just a bit on post-meeting claims by North Korea that Pyongyang was willing to agree to ‘partial’ lifting of U.S. sanctions in exchange for denuclearizing several facilities, which contradicted POTUS’ earlier claim that Kim pushed for a complete lifting of all sanctions.

In his first tweeted comments since the end of the summit, the president appeared to dismiss North Korean media reports that Kim had “lost his will” to negotiate with the United States, insisting that the negotiations were “very substantive” and that the relationship between the two countries remained “very good.”

The president also offered some validation of North Korean claims regarding the sanctions, noting that Kim laid out a “reasonable” position. Also, Trump allayed any fears there was miscommunication as it pertains to his upcoming summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires, saying of the North Koreans, “We know what they want and they know what we must have.”

POTUS’ tweet came after Beijing issued a statement urging a partial rollback of some sanctions as a way to move the peace and denuclearization process forward. Also, the statement followed published reports that Kim may restart missile testing if he can’t get relief from crippling sanctions.

That said, analysts have observed that Kim, like the Trump administration, has a lot invested in ensuring that negotiations are eventually successful insofar as getting sanctions relief — in exchange, at China’s behest no doubt, for some peace and stability on the world’s most heavily armed peninsula.

“Kim also invested a lot in the summit,” said Shin Beomchul, director at the Seoul-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies’ Center for Security and Unification, according to Bloomberg. “Kim’s domestic political risk is also high.”

The summit’s collapse reinforced the fundamental choice facing North Korea: Negotiate with the U.S. or force another nuclear crisis to improve its bargaining position. While it’s hard to know which path Kim will choose, a hard-line approach risks plunging him back into the diplomatic isolation he experienced before an unprecedented year of summits and red-carpet receptions.

The one factor that could sway Kim is Trump’s offer of improving North Korea’s economy; the president has made clear, according to reports, that denuclearization would eventually lead to better trade relations with the U.S. and prosperity for the North Korean people that Kim could claim as his legacy.

He did so by holding up the summit host nation — Vietnam, a former U.S. enemy — as an example.

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