NEWS DIGEST – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to reach agreement due to North Korean demands to lift punishing U.S.-led sanctions.

Earlier, both Trump and Kim had expressed hope for progress on improving relations and on the key issue of denuclearisation, in their talks in Hanoi, their second summit in eight months.

“Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but we couldn’t do that, we had to walk away from it,” Trump told newsmen after summit talks were cut short.

The UN and the U.S. ratcheted-up sanctions on North Korea when the reclusive state undertook a series of nuclear and missile tests in 2017, cutting off its main sources hard cash.

Both leaders left the venue of their talks, the French-colonial-era Metropole hotel, without attending a planned lunch together, and returned to their hotels.

Failure to reach an agreement marks a setback for Trump, being under pressure at home over his ties to Russia and testimony from Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer, accusing him of breaking the law while in office.

Trump said Cohen “lied a lot” during Congressional testimony in Washington on Wednesday.

While Trump had said he was in “no rush” to strike a deal with North Korea, and wanted to do the right deal with Kim, the White House had been confident enough to schedule a now canceled “joint agreement signing ceremony” at the conclusion of talks.

“You always have to be prepared to walk, we had papers ready to be signed, it just wasn’t appropriate,” Trump said, describing the two days of talks as very productive.

Trump, kicking off their second day in Hanoi, stressed the talks aimed at tackling North Korea’s nuclear threat should not be rushed.

He said that he would be happy as long as North Korea conducted no more nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile tests. (Reuters/NAN)