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CNN NEWSROOM

Kim and Moon Pledge to End Korean War; Lawyer at Trump Tower Meeting an Informant. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired April 28, 2018 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Thank you for joining us, I'm Cyril Vanier, live from the CNN NEWSROOM in Atlanta. Great to have you with us.

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VANIER: The past 24 hours could being a new chapter in Korean history. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, one of the most despised dictators in the world, appeared affable, relaxed and charming as crossed into the South for a daylong summit with President Moon Jae- in. At the conclusion of that summit, both leaders vowed to formally end the Korean War and to denuclearize the peninsula.

U.S. president Donald Trump, who could meet with Mr. Kim in coming months, called it "a very positive thing."

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DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think I have a responsibility. I think other presidents should have done it. I think the responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of the President of the United States. And I think we have -- I think I have a responsibility to see if I can do it.

And if I can't do it, it will be a very tough time is for a lot of countries and a lot of people. It is certainly something that I hope that I can do for the world. This is beyond the United States. This is a world problem. And it is something that I hope that I'm able to do for the world.

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VANIER: Paula Hancocks is in Seoul.

Paula, Kim Jong-un has threatened to start a nuclear war that could cost many thousands of lives.

What was it like for South Koreans to watch him suddenly play the nice guy?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a good question. This is the day after the day before. There is a sense among some South Koreans that they're finding it difficult to reconcile what they saw yesterday with what they know about Kim Jong-un.

If knew nothing about the North Korean leader before yesterday, you would think he was a very genuine, very affable. There was a congenial relationship brewing between him and the South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

They appeared to be getting on well. They even spoke about the fact that they were building trust together. And as there is very little trust between North and South Korea and the leaders, it is important to have that kind of relationship if you are going to move forward.

But the fact is, this is still one of the worst human rights abusers in the world and you see him embracing, shaking hands with, smiling with a former human rights activist, a former human rights lawyer.

So I think there is a sense of confusion or trying to reconcile the man that we did see yesterday in Kim Jong-un to what we actually know that he is capable of, from reports from the United Nations, from reports from defectors.

And certainly there are some human rights groups that are very disappointed this was not brought up, was this papered over?

But let's not take away from the optics of yesterday. It was certainly a significant show.

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HANCOCKS (voice-over): Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a vow to end the Korean War. Together, on the South side of the divide, president and supreme leader deliver the aspirational decree, Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in announced what would have been unimaginable just 12 months ago, when the North threatened to turn Seoul into a sea of fire.

MOON JAE-IN, PRESIDENT, SOUTH KOREA (through translator): Today, Chairman Kim and have agreed that a complete denuclearization will be achieved. And that is our common goal.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): This historic moment after a day made for television and the history books.

Kim Jong-un gripped President Moon's hand and steps over the simple concrete line that represents a Korea divided for generations and militarized to the brink of destruction.

Hand in hand they take a symbolic and unscripted step into the North. Kim is now the first in a dynasty of dictators to travel to the South since the armistice in 1953.

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KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): I came here with a mindset that I'm standing at the starting line of the new history of the North-South relationship.

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HANCOCKS (voice-over): A unified Korea remains a long way off. For now it is about guaranteeing survival. The North needs relief from biting sanctions.

For the South and the watching world, it is the promise of denuclearization. But an afternoon walk in a DMZ garden offers the leaders a chance for private discussion. Stern faces betray an intense conversation.

Pageantry returned as the men meet their wives for a banquet. The menu, sourced from across the Korean Peninsula, offers a reminder of what unites the two. Millions across both Koreas and around the world wait for what will happen --

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HANCOCKS (voice-over): -- when Donald Trump comes to the table -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, near the DMZ.

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VANIER: And also in Seoul is Oh Joon, the former South Korean ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr. Oh, it's great to have you on the show. My first question is this, North Korea has duped the international committee several times before.

Do you see and did you see during that summit, any sign that this time is different?

OH JOON, FORMER SOUTH KOREAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Well, nobody can be sure about it but I think we can give the benefit of the doubt to North Korea this time. I think we don't have anything to lose by doing that.

Unlike in the past, this time around, North Korea has already declared that they have full nuclear capability. So even if we trust them and even if we might get treated like in the past, you know, they're not getting close to nuclear weapons. They already have them.

So we give them benefit of doubt and see what happens.

VANIER: But I want to ask that question again. I am assuming that you're looking at this for any signs of where it may be going, right, whether it's a waste of time or whether this is actually going somewhere.

Did you see any such signs?

OH: Well, we will have another summit meeting between the North Korean leader and President Trump. So I think everything seems to be correlating in a way in that meeting. I think through the summit between the two Koreas, we've got the quite good groundwork for working out a nuclear deal.

So we will see if the United States and North Korea and also South Korea in the run-up to the summit they can work out a good deal.

VANIER: What would be the sense in the Kim dynasty spending three generations acquiring nuclear power only to bargain it away today?

OH: It's very hard to make a guess but I think a lot of North Korea experts agree that probably the sanctions, the so-called maximum pressure are working and then that has a lot to do with North Korea coming out at this time of stage.

VANIER: So does that mean you give the U.S. president credit then for imposing sanctions that are effectively forcing Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table?

OH: We can give credit to anyone after things are done, after we --

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OH: -- as promised. Yes, the United States is very much behind the sanctions. So are other countries and international community. So let's see.

VANIER: I want to put to you the reactions coming to us now and just recently from North Korea.

North Korean state news agency said this, the agreement that was signed during the summit would, quote, "connect the broken bloodline of the nation and push forward common prosperity and independent unification."

Do you believe that unification between the North and the South is possible within the short to medium term?

OH: Actually, yesterday's joint declaration between the two Koreas is giving out a lot of promises, a lot of possible progress into Korean relations. But as you can see, some of those agreements, actually a lot of those agreements are subject to progress in denuclearization because North Korea is right now under very tough sanctions.

And without easing them or lifting them, these promises made at the inter-Korean summit are not implementable. So we'll have to see that.

VANIER: So that word denuclearization is absolutely key.

What do you think Kim Jong-un means when he uses it?

What does the North Korean leader mean by denuclearization, do we know?

OH: Some people seem to be skeptical and some people seem to believe that, you know, what they mean by denuclearization is different from what we mean. But I think we are narrowing down and we can narrow down.

And after all, denuclearization should mean taking out nuclear weapons and their facilities.

VANIER: All right, Oh Joon, former South Korean ambassador to the United Nations, pleasure having you on the show. Thank you for your time.

There were --

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VANIER: -- no state dinners or backslapping like when President Trump met with French President Macron earlier in the week. No. Mr. Trump's meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House Friday were more businesslike.

Trump railed against Germany's trade surplus with the U.S. and Merkel pointed out that German companies produce cars in the U.S., thereby creating American jobs. Merkel also tried to soften President Trump's threat to rip up the Iran nuclear deal. But there's no indication if she succeeded at all.

Mr. Trump refused to rule out military reaction should Tehran resume its nuclear program.

And on Capitol Hill, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee issued their report saying that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. President Trump hailed this report, repeating his claim that the investigation is a big hoax by Democrats and calling it a witch hunt.

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TRUMP: We were honored. It was a great report. No collusion, which I knew anyway, no coordination, no nothing. It is a witch hunt. That's all it is.

As I've said many times before, I've always said there was no collusion, but I've also said there's been nobody tougher on Russia than me.

I was very honored by the report. It was totally conclusive, strong, powerful, many things said that nobody knew about and said in a very strong way. They were very forceful in saying that the Clinton campaign actually did contribute to Russia. So maybe somebody ought to look at that.

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VANIER: And Democrats on the committee issued their own statement, blasting the report, saying Republicans weren't interested in finding collusion and failed to interview key witnesses.

The committee's top Democrat points to events around that now infamous Trump Tower meeting attended by a group of Russians and Trump campaign officials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CALIF.), MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Don Jr., prior to the meeting, when this is being discussed by email because it's of the sensitive nature and they don't want to do it by e-mail, arranges to call a meeting Agalarov. This is the son of this oligarch close to Putin.

And we have these two calls to Emin. And the significant thing is they're separated by a third call to a blocked number. Now we sought to find out, is that blocked number Donald Trump's blocked number because we found out during the investigation that Donald Trump used a blocked number during the campaign.

We asked to subpoena the phone records so we could match up, did Donald Trump receive a call at the same time Donald Jr. was making that call, to find out did the president's son seek the president's permission, the go-ahead to go for this meeting?

The Republicans refused.

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VANIER: We're also learning new information about the Russian lawyer who was at the Trump Tower meeting. She tells NBC that she was not only a lawyer but also a Russian government informant.

She and the Kremlin had earlier denied that she worked for the Russian government.

And that's it from us this hour. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier at the CNN Center. I'll be back with headlines in about 15 minutes. For now, though, "MARKETPLACE AFRICA."