Return to Transcripts main page
Report: Trump and Abe Hold Press Conference Over Trade and North Korea Denuclearization. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired June 7, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There is no question, Wolf, behind the scenes there's considerable preparation going on here. The stakes are high for this meeting and the first time that an American president sitting down with a North Korea leader and going to be a lot more about body language and relationship. And the president said it is not a photo op. He pushed back on that idea.
That is something, Wolf, that has been sort of growing. The White House has been lowering expectations for the outcome of any meeting saying it is essentially a meet and greet. But the president saying it is more than a photo op and the meeting could extend beyond the slotted time of one day. It could be one day, a couple of days, three days if the meetings are going well in Singapore. Now, it is scheduled for one day.
The reality here is that the meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe one of the president's strongest allies in the region. He is here to have frank discussions with the president about maintaining sanctions and essentially, holding the line in those meetings with Kim Jong-Un next week. So, the president as he heads off tomorrow to the G-7 summit in Canada, a meeting with the U.S. allies. It seems to be the relations frayed with the U.S. allies and he is looking forward to meeting with the long time U.S. foe Kim Jong-Un. A lot of diplomacy happening potentially over the next five days here, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We'll be watching from Canada and then Singapore. A lot going on, Jeff ZELENY in the Rose Garden, we will get back to you. Let's bring in the panel to join us, our chief international correspondent, Christiana Amanpour is with us, our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, or national security analyst Kelly Magsamen and our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. A lot of chiefs here on this day.
We are waiting for the start of the news conference. Gloria, the president said he is already prepared for the summit. Apparently looking forward to the summit in Singapore with Kim Jong-Un and much more than he is looking forward to the summit with the allies in Canada tomorrow.
GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is clear. He obviously has to go to Canada. He is looking toward Kim Jong-Un because he thinks it is personal magnetism or something that is going to make a relationship between North Korea and the United States work. And I have to tell you that this notion that he doesn't have a lot of preparation to do is stunning to me. I can tell you from talking to his attorneys they are saying we are not going to prep him so much for Russia because he is doing so much work preparing for the summit. They are saying we are going to put off all questions of testimony and how he would testify because he is so busy preparing. I guess not.
BLITZER: Christiana, he's going to be meeting at the G-7 summit in Quebec with the Canadian leader Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel of Germany, Theresa May of the UK and Emmanuel Macron of France, you are over there. Walk us through how they view the president and the aftermath of the decision to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from those countries into the United States.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Well, they're not happy as you know. There is going to be a deep chill. As Gloria and Jeff pointed out. Here is the thing, the upset about the tariffs and upset that the president had to find that, you know, the only way to levy them was to call a national security threat and couldn't believe it and upset about the other things. The climate change which he did last year and the Iran nuclear deal he pulled out. So, upset that two of the main Europeans, the French president and the German Chancellor, have said they may break with precedent and not sign an end of G-7 summit declaration.
This has not happened before. We don't know whether they will carry out without threat but unless there is progress on the main issues. They say they will not sign on. A big problem particularly since the European allies have essentially bent over backwards to try to do what every should do, flatter President Trump, work with him, understand his issues and policies and work with him. And it hasn't worked for them at all. They are right now in a big bind over being threatened on secondary sanctions under European businesses doing business in Iran under the nuclear deal. So, it is a big challenge for the allies right now.
BLITZER: It certainly is, Jim Sciutto, if you believe the reporting out of the White House, the president was reluctant to go to Canada for the summit. Ready to do what he did with the south American summit and send the vice president, Mike Pence. But in the end, he is going, he will be there tomorrow Saturday afternoon, he'll fly off to Singapore.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: it is a remarkable new normal. The most nervous players whether it is in trade negotiations or North Korea negotiations or America's own allies. They are nervous. They are not sure where the president is going to go and amazed by the president's willingness to break with decades of traditions in terms of alliances with your European partners.
[14:05:00] But also the question of how the president handles the interests of America's Asian partners in these negotiations. He is going to be standing next to the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe here, who has skin in the game when it comes to North Korea being within intermediate missile range of North Korea weapons.
Do the Japanese knows what the intentions are as he sits across from Kim Jong-Un? Possibly not. Are the Japanese and South Koreans nervous about it and makes a deal in the American interest or his own political interest. Is he willing to put as a second priority, the interest of the South Korean or Japanese allies? That's a real concern for them when you speak to the diplomats and understandably so because this is a president that is willing to put America's closest allies give it short shrift. It is a remarkable new normal to have that whether you are in Canada or Singapore.
BLITZER: I am sure, Kelly, when the president and the prime minister emerge from the Oval Office and walk downstairs to the Rose Garden, they will put their best foot forward is and by the way, there is the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. He is arriving. They are going to try to be as positive as they can be, and there is daylight between the U.S. and Japan on several issues, including North Korea.
KELLY MAGSAMEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Absolutely. And the prime minister put his personal politics at stake with President Trump, and so far, he has not been able to deliver on big issues like trade. This is an important news conference and meeting ahead of the summit. The Japanese's biggest fear ahead of the summit is being decoupled from the United States. That the United States is going to cut a deal on ICBM capability and nuclear weapons and leave North Korea with the capability to range Japan. That's the biggest fear. They are going to put their best foot forward and they're going to try to come out with very strong alliance messages. But behind the scenes and under the table there's going to be concern on the Japanese side.
BORGER: And concern about the abductees and this notion of is the president going to raise human rights, or isn't he? And this is a very important issue to the Japanese. And you know, the question is how firm is the president going to be on it because these were people who were kidnapped by North Korea. Very important politically to Abe and the president is going to have to raise it and Abe saying to him I'm sure, you can't have a deal without getting those people back for us.
SCIUTTO: The president acknowledged that and last time he stood beside the Japanese prime minister, he said, I know Mr. Abe, you want these people back, he said that before, but we also know that the president made public commitments before that he didn't follow through with. I'm sure there's nervousness with the Japanese Prime Minister.
BLITZER: There's a lot of nervousness with that. There's a lot of nervousness with the South Korean leadership. And certainly, with the European allies and Canada.
Everybody stick around. The president of the United States and the prime minister of Japan they will be speaking any moment in the White House Rose Garden. Live coverage, right after this.
[14:10:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: We're standing by for the live news consistent, the president of the United States and the prime minister of Japan meeting in the Oval Office and will be walking down into the Rose Garden to make statements and answer reporter's questions. The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo there and going to have a second meeting with the president after. Visiting and meeting with Kim Jong- Un on two occasions. I'm anxious tomorrow the president is supposed to be meet with the closest U.S. allies and some of them all of them, that we're going to talk about are upset with the recent policy decisions. Justin Trudeau of Canada, Angela Merkel of Germany and Theresa May of the UK, and Emmanuel Macron of France. What kind of relationship based on everything that you are hearing, Christiana, does President Trump have with these world leaders?
AMANPOUR: We see it play out in real time. They try their best in varying degrees to put on the charm. Whether it is the European leaders or the prime minister of Canada, the northern neighbor and many others to try to work with the president of the United States. And it hasn't really benefitted them at all. I was talking to the former chief of staff of tony who is a peace negotiator and he says, don't forget the president pulled out of the transpacific partnership. The TPP.
[14:15:00] One thing that this president has done is kind of united a huge segment, if not the world against him. This is a dangerous thing because it leaves vacuums and this whole notion that I was hearing from European leaders in the last couple of days of trying to figure out the chaos level that the president will entertain and the disruption level, and the stirring to see where things fall and what kind of opportunities they may provide.
One of the problems is that it may do harm, more harm than good, and if it does, others will pick up the pieces. In the words of this official, the big winner out of the disruption now is China. They have a clear vision of what they want from the world and from the United States and they're pretty much getting it and even on the trade tariffs, the Chinese are driving a hard bargain and not playing ball with the United States.
And they stand to benefit strongly from the summit and from sanctions if they do get relieved of North Korea. So, I think in the big picture, that's the big picture. Obviously, we have to say that it is really important that this meeting will be happening because it takes the immediate threat of nuclear war, as crazy as it sounds, that's what everybody was fearful about and it sort of takes that off of the table and puts it in the realm of discussions. We'll have to see thousand plays out.
BLITZER: We are seeing live pictures. Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, and the vice president and John Bolton, he president's dour and senior adviser to president Trump. They are seated in the first row. The president and prime minister very soon will be walking down the stairs making their statement.
SCIUTTO: And it is a great representation of just the different styles here. You saw the Japanese team walk in. A dozen hard working serious diplomats working the details of all of the possible outcomes of these negotiation for months and years knowing that the president himself is going to make the decision without preparation based on attitude in effect applying what works in Hudson Yards in New York will work with a North Korea leader.
Imagine how that unsettles U.S. allies who are used to process and detailed, expectations, different outcomes, how are you going to serve my interest? Let's think about this outcome or this outcome and you have a U.S. president calling the shots based on the way he did business in queens and New York. Will that work in a nuclear negotiation?
BORGER: And Abe spoke with him 30 times either on the phone or in person, considers himself a friend of his. What this shows us, the fact that they are so worried, and they are here now shows us that just because you think you have a good relationship with Donald Trump, doesn't mean he will then veer off and do something that will hurt you. And you know, this question of eliminating ballistic missiles of all ranges is a very, very big issue for Abe. As you point out, he doesn't want to leave himself vulnerable, but it seems to me their not quite sure what's going to happen. Did he get assurances today from the president, that's what we are interested in finding out?
SCIUTTO: I bet you there are guys on the U.S. side of the delegation of their who aren't sure what's going to happen in the negotiation or what the president might --
BLITZER: It's like the president says, we know many times over the years including in interviews with me, Kelly, the president as a private citizen and candidate railed against why does the United States need all of these troops in South Korea, why does the United States need all of these thousands of troops in Japan, and he was angry about that and thought it was costing U.S. taxpayers too much money to deploy 40 or 50 or 60,000 troops to Japan and another 30,000 in Korea.
MAGSAMEN: Absolutely. And the Japanese are going to be watching very carefully whether or not U.S. troops in South Korea are put on the table in these negotiations. Now Secretary Mattis last week said that is not on the table in these negotiations but the Japanese are very nervous. That's kind of like the canary in the coal mine for them in terms of their alliance with the United States. So, they're going to be watching out very carefully.
BLITZER: We will see what the president says. If anything, on those lines. They are still in the Oval Office. Let's take another break, we'll be right back.
[14:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Once again we're waiting for the president of the United States and the prime minister of Japan to walk out that door from the Oval Office and walk down the stairs into the Rose Garden. It looks like there is movement and there is the president coming out with Shinzo Abe. They had a lengthy meeting in the oval office. A lot of discussions of the upcoming summit next Tuesday in Singapore. The president will make a statement and the prime minister and then open up to questions from American and Japanese reporters. Here is the president. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
Today I'm greatly honored to welcome my good friend, Prime Minister Abe from Japan to the White House. Over the past 16 months we have worked closely together to address common challenges of which there are many, seize opportunities and advance the interests of our nations.
Today we have had a deeply productive and valuable discussion. We have developed not only a strong working-relationship over the last year and a half, specifically 503 days. But a great personal friendship. I was honored by the tremendous hospitality the prime minister showed me when the American delegation went to Japan last year. It was really something very special and we had the prime minister and Mrs. Abe as our guest in March at Mar a Lago in Palm Beach.
From the beginning of my administration, the prime minister and I have been working to expand our cooperation in a range of areas including defense and commerce. Which is what we discussed today. As I prepare to meet next week with Kim Jong-Un and I want to bring up the fact that the prime minister and also President Moon of South Korea were extremely helpful, cooperative and would like to see something happen. It would be great for North Korea, South Korea, Japan and the United States and the world.
Our partnership has been invaluable in reaching this important moment and continue to be in close communication with the weeks ahead including the issue of Japanese, abductees which I know is of great importance to Prime Minister Abe. I hope the meeting represents a bright new future of North Korea and indeed, a bright new future for the world. The denuclearization of the Korean peninsula would usher in new prosperity, and peace for all Koreans and north and south and for people everywhere.
Prime Minister Abe and I are working to improve the trading relationship between the United States and Japan. Seeking a bilateral deal with Japan based on the principal of fairness and reciprocity. We are working hard to the trade imbalance and remove barriers to U.S. exports and achieve a fair and mutual beneficial economic partnership and we're on our way. The prime minister was telling us moments ago that they are buying billions and billions of dollars of additional products of all kind. Military, jets, airliners from Boeing, lots of farm products. We're going to be more business with Japan which is what everybody wants to see.
There's never been a better time to invest in the United States. Thanks to the massive tax cuts, historic deregulation and a strong trade policy which just begun and over the years extraordinarily weak trade policy. The opening of American energy and a return to the rule of law, our economy is absolutely booming. Best its ever been. Unemployment at the lowest level in nearly half a century and for African American and Hispanic-American workers, unemployment reached the lowest level ever recorded.
We welcome and encourage Japanese investors to open new plants in the United States and that will happen. The prime minister told me it will happen. We want new plants going into Michigan and Pennsylvania and Ohio. And Japan has also remained a critical partner in our efforts to promote a free and open pacific region. Where sovereign nations uphold the rule of law and respect the rights of ordinary neighbor and honor the interest of their people. Allowing diverse nations to thrive and prosper all together in one beautiful peaceful atmosphere. That's what's happening now.
Prime Minister Abe a true privilege to work with you.
My great friend. I want to thank you for being here at the White House for our meetings today. So productive. I'm proud to say that the bond between our nations are stronger than ever before and together, we can unlock incredible new opportunities and achieve new prosperity and ensure the safety and security of our citizens for a very, very long time to come and that's what we intend to do. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Prime minister. Thank you.
SHINZO ABE, PRIME MINISTER, JAPAN (through translator): Mr. President, I am so grateful to you for this meeting that you offered with great hospitality with such busy time with G-7 summit and summit meeting upcoming. I also would like to express my appreciation to the people of the United States for always warmly welcoming us as your ally. In five days, U.S./North Korea summit is to take place. I would like to pay my deep respect to the outstanding leadership to president Trump that he made this decision that no past president was able to accomplish.
In the last 18 months we spent many hours to discuss this issue. We shall never repeat the past mistakes. While this sort is shared between us, we are able to witness an historic talk which will take place shortly. Today, with president Trump, our discussion was focused on issue of North Korea. What should we do as we approach that U.S./North Korea summit and the stability and peace of -- on this topic we took good amount of time and carried out in-depth and candid exchange of use.