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Coverage of Trump-Kim Meeting in Singapore; House Escalates Feud With Canada Over Trade. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired June 11, 2018 - 00:00   ET

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


[00:00:17]

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Ready to meet face to face. U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong- un, just hours away from a summit that could make history.

Welcome to our viewers, joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And I'm George Howell. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for being with us.

CHURCH: We are just hours away from the first meeting of a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

HOWELL: That's right. The U.S. President Donald Trump and the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, both in Singapore where this historic summit is set to take place. Moments ago, President Trump arrived at Singapore's presidential palace for a meeting with that nation's prime minister.

The U.S. president has called this trip a mission of peace and just hours ago, he tweeted this, "Great to be in Singapore. Excitement is in the air," he says.

CHURCH: Kim Jong-un met with Singapore's prime minister earlier Sunday, and in a statement, North Korea says the talks are aimed at denuclearization, and a durable peace.

CNN is covering this historic moment, from all angles. Will Ripley and Manisha Tank are in Singapore, and Anna Coren is live for us from Seoul. We'll start with Will Ripley, who has reported extensively from North Korea.

So, Will, the U.S. president is raising expectations before this historic meeting. How well prepared do you think he is to go face to face with Kim Jong-un and what's the feeling on the ground there about what all can be accomplished?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Rosemary, President Trump has stated that he's been preparing his entire life for this meeting with North Korea, that all of the real estate deals, the elections, all of the high stakes situations that he has been in which he has come out a winner, he feels that the same will happen on the ground here in Singapore.

But obviously when you're talking about the denuclearization of a country that has been an enemy of the United States for more than six decades, a country whose current leader has spent much of his six years in power bolstering his nuclear arsenal, and a country whose state media just released an article saying that they will not unilaterally give up their nuclear weapons.

That they want to work in synchronization, synchronous steps with the United States. It does show that this negotiation will truly be unlike any other that President Trump has experienced before.

We know that here in Singapore, there have been some 11th hour meeting between the United States representatives and North Koreans trying to see if they can get the two sides any closer because right now they're very far apart on the issue of the definition of denuclearization.

To try to see if they can bridge that gap before the two leaders meet each other for the first time and shake hands. That will be happening here tomorrow morning local time and it will be truly extraordinary images.

The optics obviously are going to be really riveting the world. But when they sit down across that table, Rosemary, are they going to be able to come up with this nuclear deal, a substantive nuclear deal? That's still very much an open question.

CHURCH: That is the critical question, isn't it? And with all these raised expectations, what needs to come out of this meeting for it to be deemed a success, and how mindful would President Trump be if the fact that back 1994, we know that North Korea made a deal with the Clinton administration, and then it turned out to be a sham, because North Korea cheated.

RIPLEY: You know, from the North Korean perspective, the United States didn't fulfill its commitments in that agreement either. Because remember, the U.S. had promised to help build two light water reactors, they were never built.

The U.S. was late on delivery shipments of heavy fuel. And yes, at the same time, North Korea was covertly enriching uranium, finding another way to produce material to make nuclear weapons, and they were doing that in secret.

So, both sides, really going into this with a lot of mistrust, which means that the key for any deal reached here in Singapore in the coming days is going to be verification. You ask any expert who studies North Korea or anybody who has been in the country, they will tell you that the verification is going to be the trickiest part.

Because it is a country that blocks nearly all unauthorized access for foreigners. Foreigners are never allowed to roam freely around the country. So, to think that North Korea suddenly going to open up places that have been state secrets for decades and allow inspectors to go in there and verify the claims that are being made, there will be a lot of suspicion. You know, are these authentic steps that North Korea is taking, or as some have alleged of the Pyunggeri nuclear test side demolition, will North Korea try to put something on more for theatrics, for a show and leaving real questions about the ability to actually verify if steps towards denuclearization are actually going to be taken.

But, look, the other thing we have to watch here is just the personal rapport between the North Korea Leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump. If President Trump says he has a gut feeling that this is somebody he can work with, somebody he can develop a friendship with, then that's obviously going to change the entire dynamic of the way that the United States and North Korea, you know, interact with each other.

[00:05:12] But the substance of the deal that's what everybody will be looking at very closely.

CHURCH: Yes, most definitely. Will Ripley, many thanks to you in Singapore there.

Manisha Tank, let's go to you now. You're also in Singapore at the hotel where Kim Jong-un is staying. What is being said about the presence of the North Korean leader there, and how well prepared might he be for this history making event with the U.S. president?

MANISHA TANK: Well, Rosemary, I really do want to pick up on What Will was just saying there. There's so much to be said for all of the negotiations. We've become a bit of an expert on hotels in Singapore over the last few days.

I'm here at the St. Regis, which is where the North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un is staying. But elsewhere at the Ritz Carlson, that is where there is a delegation from the U.S. State Department and the DPRK negotiating, looking at finer points at this.

And that's what a lot of this stuff will be about today in anticipation of the two at the meeting. Let's not forget, though, that the environment has so much to do with how people feel going into a big decision-making process, talks, negotiations like this.

And the sun has certainly come out for President Trump. It's a bright and sunny day here in Singapore. Kim Jong-un staying here at this hotel behind me. $ this is now the third international visit that he has done outside of North Korea, as the state leader.

That's important to note. He's come to stay at a hotel. I went inside earlier to get a feel for what's going on there. It's very lavish and comfortable. He certainly wouldn't want for anything there, so if you're trying to stay away from stress when it comes to very important decisions about your country, this would be a good place to do it.

Indeed, he met the prime minister of Singapore just yesterday night that was on Sunday evening, just a few hours after he landed here in Singapore. And it was important to note that he talked about Singapore's importance in all of this and how they hosted the summit. He even referred to idea of Singapore hosting as if it were a family affair and indeed, his family does have a history with Singapore. They have visited here before. So, it's very important to note all of the symbolism and everything going on behind the scenes of that nature, as well.

As for anything that will come from the summit, Will was pointing to the finer details, and a lot of the history here. But let's not forget that a lot of that ground work is being done. They're going to make those decisions on the island resort of Sentosa.

It's separated from Singapore just by a bridge, but it is an island resort. They're finding manicured lawns there, it's a very relaxing and peaceful place to be. The question is going to be, is peace going to be on that agenda. Is a peace treaty going to be something that they can agree to?

And if it happens, many of those interested parties will want to rush in and understand where they fit into that process, beyond just the United States and North Korea.

CHURCH: Manisha Tank joining us there from Singapore just out the front of Kim Jong-un's hotel. Many thanks to you.

Let's cross now to Anna Coren from Seoul, South Korea. Anna, of course, it has to be said, South Korea's president needs to take a lot of the credit for getting these two leaders to this point. What's being said there about the expectations of this historic meeting, and what does South Korea want to see come out of this?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right about President Moon Jae-in. Ever since he came into power, he's been pushing for detente with North Korea, furiously working to make that happen.

Obviously, the Winter Olympics was his gesture of goodwill involving the North Koreans. Ever since then, he's been working tirelessly to get those conversations, discussion, dialogue happening to ensure that this summit takes place tomorrow in Singapore.

As far as the South Koreans go, Rosemarie, they are very hopeful, extremely optimistic as to what can come from this. The reason being is that they have been living with the threat of war for more than 70 years.

We need to remember that at the end of the Korean war, an armistice was signed, not a peace treaty. So, at the very minimum, that is what people would love to see come out of the summit, a peace treaty between the North and the South Koreans.

But there really is hope, I mean, what is the alternative, Rosemary? The alternative is war, so the people here have high expectations. Some say it's slightly misguided, but hope is really in bounds here. There are those, however, who do have their doubts. They say this is deja vu. We've been down this path twice before under the Clinton and Bush administrations. They also point out, Rosemary, these experts, they don't believe Kim Jong-un will ever fully give up his nuclear weapons program, because they are vital to the legitimacy of the North Korean regime, as well as to his leadership.

[00:10:03] But he's saying that they do feel that there is a need for change, that North Korea needs to evolve. They know the need to open up in the sense that there will be foreign economic investment, so that there's growth and development that they so desperately need.

If I can finish on a poll, Rosemary, was taken here in South Korea. Three quarters of those who were asked believed that Kim Jong-un, a man who not so long ago was described as a murderous dictator, a nuclear lunatic, is now trustworthy.

So, they believed that whatever deal is struck in Singapore, that he will live up to it. Quite a transformation.

CHURCH: We will watch and see what comes out of that. Our Anna Coren joining us from Seoul, South Korea, just after 1:00 in the afternoon.

HOWELL: Thank you all for the reporting. Let's get context now with Joseph Yun, a CNN political affairs analysts and former U.S. special representative for North Korea Policy. Joseph, a pleasure to have you on the show again with us today.

Look, we are just hours away from a very historic summit. I would like to get your thoughts on the North Korean perspective. How does Kim Jong-un prepare for a meeting like this with this president, President Trump, who says for him, it's more about instinct, who is highly unpredictable, and has backed out of this meeting, only to reconsider and agree to it?

JOSEPH YUN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, thank you very much, George. Good to be with you from Singapore, and a beautiful day in Singapore. You know, we are less than 24 hours away from what will be the first-ever summit. And you're right, it is a tough task actually for both, not just for Kim Jong-un, for also President Trump.

This is why I think we're hearing again and again from the North Korean side that Kim Jong-un wants this meeting to be what we call getting to know you meeting. Let's get to know you. I don't know if I can trust you. We have decades, a history full of mistrust. You're telling us you can do everything once we give up our weapons?

But our weapons are the only thing that is guaranteed you will not attack us. How can we trust you? So, for Kim Jong-un, it is critically important to slow things down, to see let's build a relationship, let's get to know you.

For President Trump, it's a bit of the other way around. He fears he has to do denuclearization quickly, so let me get a commitment from you and see what you have. So today, they will have the last session of what I would call walking level negotiations. And then tomorrow, the leaders meet to see whether there is a last- minute give or take. So, that's where we are, George.

HOWELL: Very interesting point that you raise on history. I want to ask you about that in a moment, but continuing with this parallel, this juxtaposition, so with President Trump, how would you surmise he would prepare for a meeting like this with Kim Jong-un, who is getting exactly what he wants with this meeting, who has been mysterious, but transformed and now open, seemingly comfortable talking with world leaders.

YUN: Well, you know, we have seen, as you mentioned, Kim Jong-un coming out into the world stage. He's met with the Korean president twice. He's met with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, twice. Now also with the Russians.

And now, of course, though, kind of the biggest meeting of all, the summit meeting with President Trump. And we have seen him come out from what used to be a caricature. People used to know him as young, maybe unruly, maybe spoiled and kind of a little strange haircut and all to someone, you know, that looks normal.

And you know, on the Asian context, you've seen him be differential to Xi Jinping. You've seen him be respectful to Moon Jae-in. Yet at the same time, having the force of personality. So, this is to me an amazing turn around for someone who is only in his mid-30s.

So, we don't quite know what to expect, but I would expect that he would put a charm offensive on, and he has done so with the U.S. side for the past few weeks. His point will be, you know, give us time. We got to work it out slowly, let's feel comfortable.

HOWELL: And Rosemary just touched on this a moment ago with our correspondent, but history is important. You brought this up. North Korea has backed out of agreements before with the U.S., and they say U.S. has done the same, so how important will history be going into this?

[00:15:11] YUN: Look, George, I mean, you know, people are always saying they cheated on me, we're never going to get into that agreement again. But really after having said so many things, there is no other way but negotiations. There are plenty of blame to go around on each side.

You know, North Korea says it's the U.S. fault, and the Americans will obviously say you cheated on us. And so, I think the key for negotiations is to learn from the past, but to say we will never go back to similar agreements again. I think that's misleading, because we have to ask for denuclearization.

They need security assurance. So, we have to learn from the past, and then move on. And so not to say you cheated, we will never enter an agreement again, until you do everything. I think that's putting it way too high and quite frankly unrealistic.

HOWELL: All right. Joseph Yun, we appreciate your time and perspective today. We will all be watching as these two leaders come together. Thank you for your time.

CHURCH: And we'll take short break here. But still to come, shocking comments from U.S. officials about Canada's prime minister, the latest on the fallout from the G7 Summit. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:20:38]

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. U.S. President Donald Trump isn't letting his summit with Kim Jong-un get in the way of his feud with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. The two have been at odds over tariffs now more so since the G7 Summit. Mr. Trump has been on Twitter a lot in the last few hours accusing Canada of unfair trade practices and said Mr. Trudeau acts hurt when called out.

HOWELL: All of this began after an announcement by Justin Trudeau on Saturday. He said that Canada wouldn't be pushed around and had to respond to the U.S. with tariffs on its goods. That sparked outrage from the White House. The U.S. backed out of the G7 joint communique, and President Trump's aides went on the attack on Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: It's a betrayal, OK? Essentially a double crossing. Not just double crossing President Trump, but the other members of the G7, who were working together and pulling together this communique. You know, you never get everything you want. There are compromises along the way.

President Trump played that process in good faith. So, I ask you, he gets up in the airplane and leaves, and then Trudeau starts blasted him in a domestic news conference? I'm sorry, that is a betrayal, a double cross.

PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: There's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Peter Navarro there saying a special place in hell, those words not taken kindly to Canada. Canada's rhetoric isn't as fierce but pushing back again those attacks. Here's the country's foreign minister had to say on Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, CANADIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: For me, what is insulting and what I object to very strongly is the illegal and unjustified imposition of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. The national security pretext is absurd and frankly, insulting to Canadians, the close and strongest ally the United States has had.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: CNN global a42airs analyst, David Rohde joins me now from New York, and is also the online news director for "The New Yorker." Great to have you with us.

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Thank you.

CHURCH: Now we do seem to living in an upside down world right now, where our friends have become enemies and enemies our friends. Why did President Trump suddenly turn on Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, given nothing said by the prime minister was new? Was there any justification for that reaction? Has America being treated unfairly, as President Trump suggests when it comes to trade and tariffs?

ROHDE: As far as I'm concerned, no. I was surprised by the strength of President Trump's reaction, why he was set off by this one press conference. But this fits a long pattern of Donald Trump being very combative. He counterattacks when he feels he's under attack, and you're just seeing that now on the international stage.

CHURCH: And President Trump and the White House continuing their attacks now on Prime Minister Trudeau, as we just heard Trump advisers calling Trudeau weak and dishonest, suggesting there's a special place in hell for the prime minister, that this is a betrayal and stabbing the president in the back. Where is all this hostility coming from, and what impact will this likely have on America's relationship with Canada?

ROHDE: It's, again, part of a tactic, a very aggressive White House, that doubles down when they get in a fight. I think this is backfiring. It's driving up support for Justin Trudeau in Canada. The U.K., Britain and France are all backing Trudeau.

And essentially this is public bullying on the international stage, and it's backfiring. All politics is local. Justin Trudeau cannot back down for his own domestic political reasons when he's attacked by Donald Trump.

So, this kind of bullying, you know, isn't working, and I don't think it will work in Singapore if President Trump applies it to North Korea.

CHURCH: And David, I want to bring up that picture again. We just have it there. Germany's Angela Merkel leaning across the table while President Trump sits with his arms crossed.

[00:25:07] Can we bring that up, guys? A picture is worth a thousand words. What does it tell us about the relationship between the United States and its G7 allies?

ROHDE: Well, you can see, you know, Prime Minister Abe of Japan is there, President Macron, Theresa May, as well, and Trump is isolated, and his allies are not blinking. Again, they cannot blink.

All of these leaders, Britain, France, all these different countries, Japan, they can't look weak to their own constituents. So, they have no choice when they're backed into a corner by Donald Trump than to push back. This isn't how you conduct effective trade negotiations or basic diplomacy.

CHURCH: And significantly, this is all happening as President Trump prepares to meet with Kim Jong-un in Singapore, a long-time enemy of the United States. President Trump seems more excited about that meeting and willing to make a deal with him compared to his G7 allies. How do you make sense of all this?

ROHDE: Well, I think there's an element of this that does appeal to President Trump's political base. He was elected blaming the rest of the world on free loading off the United States. He offered simple solutions to complex problems of economics and trade.

So, I think this all helps him politically inside the United States with his supporters. But there's large number of Americans who I think disagree with this general bullying, this belligerence. And I don't think it will help him inside the United States in a long-term and is definitely hurting him internationally at this point.

CHURCH: We'll be watching to see what happens to the United States in the midst of all of this. David Rohde, thank you so much. We always appreciate your analysis.

ROHDE: Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead, all eyes are on the U.S. president and the leader of North Korea, as they head into this summit. The question, though, who is this more important for, is it President Trump or Kim Jong-un? We'll have that story ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:30:00]

HOWELL: A warm welcome back to our viewers around the world. You're watching CNN Newsroom, I'm George Howell.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. I wanted to check the headlines for you this hour.

HOWELL: After a dispute over tariffs at the G7, the White House is ramping up attacks on the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Trump Trade advisor, Peter Navarro said weak and dishonest. He did that on Fox News Sunday. He also signaled, there was, quote, a special place in hell for the prime minister. Those words not taken lightly by the Canadians.

CHURCH: A ship carrying more than 600 rescued migrants is waiting in the Mediterranean Sea near (inaudible). Doctors without Borders said Italian officials have instructed them to stand by in their current position. The rescue ship is waiting to be assigned a port of safety to dock at.

HOWELL: Heavy smoke rose from a fire at a warehouse in Baghdad. That warehouse hosing ballot boxes Iraq's contested parliamentary election. The fire comes days after parliament ordered a nation recount. The interior ministry says the ballots did not survive. It's not clear though what started that fire.

CHURCH: Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are both in Singapore preparing for their historic summit which is just hours away. Mr. Trump earlier arrived at Singapore's presidential palace for a meeting with the countries prime minister. It will be the first time a sitting U.S. president has met with a North Korean leader.

HOWELL: A meeting between the U.S. president and North Korea's leader, it would have been unthinkable a year ago. If you think back to all the threats, the things that we head then. But it is happening now. For a look at what's at stake for these two leaders. Our Nic Robertson has this.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: President Trump and Kim Jong-un side-by-side at stake it would seem nuclear Armageddon.

TRUMP: North Korea best not make anymore threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury.

ROBERTSON: The threat may have gotten the two to the table. And now, at least, Trump dialing down on the bad stuff.

TRUMP: I think it's a getting to know you meeting.

ROBERTSON: So what do these leaders want from this? Kim face time with Trump. Recognition North Korea craves. Makes Kim big, back home. And Trump keeps a campaign promise, kind of, (inaudible) back home. Even though these, Kim's nukes, are being handed despite this demand.

POMPEO: The complete verifiable and irreversible denuclearation of the Korean peninsula.

ROBERTSON: To get that, Kim wanted these gone. U.S. troops in South Korea. For now, it seems off the table. And more of this, trade, sanctions ease. He also wants to keep these, his conventional weapons. And this, his army. So he can keep lots of this, loyal obedience. And this is how he wants to feel when it's all done. But if he gets it wrong, he might get this...

TRUMP: If the meeting when I'm there is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting.

ROBERTSON: And then even this again.

TRUMP: And they will be met with fire, fury and frankly, power. The likes of which this world has never seen before.

ROBERTSON: Trouble for Trump, Kim perceived to have given up very little and gained a good bit along the way. Lot's of this, valuable face time with other leaders. Meaning, he's unlikely to face maximum pressure sanctions again. Still, after this, Trump gets to do this, walk away. Leave the details to his deputies that have, absent Trump cracking

Kim's will, could take years. Leaving Kim doing a lot more of this, and this, and none of these, get handed over any time soon, if ever. Nic Robertson, CNN, Seoul, South Korea.

HOWELL: Nic Robertson, there, painting the picture for sure, for us. And now, let's go to bring in David Kim, in Tokyo, Japan. David, a former U.S. State Department official for East Asia and non- proliferation. David, a pleasure to have you here on the show again with us.

[00:35:06]

Look, at the end of the day, as Nic, rightly points out, it all comes down to the complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea, but that word may have very different meaning between these two nations. North Korea has put out a statement, indicating that it will talk about that topic during the summit, but do you see the challenges, coming together, on what that word means?

DAVID KIM, FORMER U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Right. I think that the word for North Korea has always been that, the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That might be indicating the ROK-U.S. alliance, and also, weapons, the nuclear umbrella that the United States provides for North -- for South Korea.

For the South -- for the United States, that would mean complete denuclearization of North Korea's arsenal, their weapons of mass destruction program, which includes chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons.

HOWELL: Okay, but let's put that into context. What does denuclearization mean for a country like North Korea because, again, when you look at other countries that have invited outsiders in to inspect their facilities, would North Korea be open to that, in your estimation?

KIM: George, I think that North Korea, right now, is dealing with a situation where Kim Jong-un is going to stay in power, maybe 50 years. His father stayed in power for 17 years. He's looking at a long term strategic shift here. I think there is a possibility that he wants to open his economy but also keep his nuclear weapons.

Our side has said, the President, Donald trump, Secretary Pompeo has indicated that this not possible, that we want the complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of all their weapons of mass destruction program. And so, I think Kim Jong-un has to make a -- a decision here and we have to see if this decision could be made at the summit.

HOWELL: And now the burden is on President Trump to reach an agreement with Kim Jong-un or to get a deal, as he uses that vernacular, seeing such negotiations as a business transaction. He just backed out of the deal, reached with Iran, saying, it wasn't good enough, so it seems that he will likely have to strike a deal with North Korea that's better than the Iran deal. What are your thoughts about that?

KIM: I think we're dealing with a completely different administration. I don't want to compare the two because everything President Obama did, Trump has reversed and so, I think it's going into this. We have to be clear eyed of what President Trump's priorities are and that's complete denuclearization. And if it's stronger, the better it is, but I don't want to compare different administrations because we have strategically shifted away from what Obama did in Iran and what President -- President Trump decides to do in North Korea.

HOWELL: Fair enough, but here's the other question. So, a deal between North Korea and the United States. There are others involved. Japan will be looking on, South Korea, certainly concerned about what happens with this summit. China and Russia, also, paying close attention to what happens here. So will they have a voice in this? How important -- instrumental will those voices be?

KIM: I can't emphasize enough how important our alliance is with South Korea and Japan. We have to be in lockstep as we go forward in this negotiation. They have played a role in the past. They will play a role in the future, whether it's an economic package, whether it's verification efforts through the IAEA.

Japan and South Korea are critical to the alliance, currently and -- and -- and in the future, so we have to power our diplomats. We have to be in lockstep with our allies and we have to be sure that we are clear eyed in going in to this, that we're not making the same mistakes of the past.

HOWELL: David Kim, thank you so much for time. Stand by with us. We are looking at these live images. I want to tell our viewers what we're seeing here, these live images, as we're waiting for the U.S. president to arrive alongside the prime minister of Singapore.

David Kim, here with us as well, and David, just to get your thoughts about the optics because optics are very important here. Again, we're seeing President Trump in Singapore meeting with the prime minister of Singapore.

[00:40:00]

Soon we'll see President Trump meeting with the leader of North Korea. The optics of all of these parties coming together, how important is this in this historic summit?

KIM: You know, we don't want this to be only about optics. We want this to be about specific measures that the U.S. and North Korea can take towards denuclearization. So optics are great, optics get a great press buzz, but at the end of the day, we have to be sure to walk away from this agreement having specific steps towards denuclearization and trust between the two leaders to empower our diplomats to continue this process moving forward.

HOWELL: David, I want you to stay on with us as we continue to watch these live images in Singapore. Again for our viewers around the world, we're waiting to see President Donald J. Trump arrive there alongside the Prime Minister of Singapore leasing along (ph) to get, you know, a read of coming together at this very important meeting. This is a summit in that city state that has diplomatic ties with both North Korea and the United States, so certainly instrumental in this meeting. David Kim again with us. David, you were talking about the optics versus the substance. Here's the question for you. Do you expect substance to come out of this meeting for the United States or do you think this could become what we've seen in the past - on meeting after another after another before they hit that target, that goal of what denuclearization means?

KIM: Right, I think we have to be hopeful. This is a new set of actors. This is a new day. I think that going in we have to be clear-eyed, but also we have to be able to clearly state that if North Korea's not willing to denuclearize, President Trump has clearly indicated that he will walk away. And so, I think from the U.S. side, we have been very clear of our goals, and now it's up to Kim Jong-un and North Korea to step up to the plate and bring some deliverables that we can - that we'd take and move forward with this agreement.

HOWELL: OK, David, but here's the thing. So when Kim Jong-un meets with the U.S. President, there is a sense that he's already won. Simply being across the table from the leader of the free world, to be seen as an equal, a nuclear power, an equal with the United States, is the pressure more on Kim Jong-un here or is it more on the United States and President Trump to come out of this with, again, the details here? Again, David, standby one second. I apologize, but I need to tell our viewers what's happening. We just saw Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We're seeing John Kelly there. We're seeing the delegation here along with the U.S. President. We expect him to walk through that hallway and come into view of our cameras any moment now. Again for our viewers around the world, what you're watching right now the U.S. President in Seoul, rather in Singapore. We're waiting to see him stand alongside the Prime Minister of Singapore. And now we're seeing John Bolton there. All the members coming alongside here. Rosemary -

CHURCH: Yes, so we're going to the entourage there with the U.S. President. Of course, any moment now we will see the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, come out there alongside U.S. President Donald Trump. They have been meeting for close - nearly an hour, this bilateral meeting and we expect them to come out here. They will speak, but they are planning on having a banquet. They will have a lunch and they will meet together. Now, it's worth pointing out that earlier in the day, the Prime Minister of Singapore had already met with Kim Jong-un, so this is part of the moving toward this historic moment where Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump will sit down together, face-to-face, and will hopefully come up with some sort of deal that will lay the framework for the possibility of peace going forward. For both sides (ph), I mean, there are many risks involved here. We don't know what can or can't be achieved here, and there's a sense from U.S. President Donald Trump, he feels he'll be able to get a sense of what he can get from Kim Jong-un.

HOWELL: President Trump's saying for him, it's more about attitude. It is a get-to-know-you meeting. Many people, though, asking, Rosemary, what are the details? What comes out of this particular meeting? And is there a framework that's agreed to on what denuclearization means? But again, you know, we're hours away from that. Right now, what we're seeing the U.S. President soon to come into view. We've seen members of his delegation, the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, General John Kelley, Ambassador John Bolton, Stephen Miller we saw, several others that have passed through view, but in a moment the U.S. President Donald Trump to stand alongside the Prime Minister of Singapore to give a few comments there and then to continue on with their day in preparation for what we're all waiting for, Rosemary.

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That moment where President Trump will be face-to-face with Kim Jong- un.

CHURCH: And as you mention, I mean, what's critical here is they've come to this point and they still don't have a shared concept or definition of what denuclearization means.

HOWELL: Let's bring in CNN's Will Ripley following this story as well. And Will, I know that you've been of course very close in contact with your officials with forces there--

CHURCH: There he is, there's Donald Trump-

HOWELL: Oh, and there we're seeing Donald Trump. Donald Trump right now entering view, we're expecting him to peak to the cameras here, let's stand by here as the two leaders square up and give comments. All right--

CHURCH: That was certainly very brave.

HOWELL: Trump is getting a - a photo op if that. No - no comments delivered there and the media being pushed away. But again, that's what we saw a moment ago, the U.S. president standing beside the - the prime minister there.

CHURCH: Yes. That's right, Lee Hsien Loong there and they've gone in to have their lunch. And of course that was the shortest meet and greet we've ever witnessed. Will Ripley, let's bring you in to the conversation here. So, we were expecting a little more than just a handshake and a hi and goodbye.

WILL RIPLEY: Hey, you know, but that's how it works here in Singapore. This is a - this is a country that has attracted four nations that want to hold to sensitive summits.

Because they don't tolerate rowdy press conferences, there's only one small part of the entire city where protests can happen legally without a permit and it's very far away from the venue for the summit, on Sentosa Island.

So there's not going to be any surprises from the media and the local pres son the ground here, and so you saw a little bit of that control. It's playing out live just now, which is one of the reasons that - that it made Singapore an attractive destination for the leaders of North Korea and frankly the United States as well, given the sensitivity of what they're going to be talking about.

And the controversy about things that they won't be talking about such as human rights, that is one thing that President Trump has said maybe he'll bring up with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. But as far as we know, it is not a major agenda item. But what is the major agenda item - denuclearization.

HOWELL: Will - standby. Let's listen in as the U.S. president speaking.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (INAUDIBLE).

QUESTION: Mr. President, many of America's allies -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you.

HOWELL: Well we seen - we seen the - saw the U.S. president complimenting officials there at Singapore. And at the same time, the press quickly ushered out. Do we still have Will Ripley with us?

If so, we'll bring him in. Will, you were talking about the nature of press there in Singapore. And again, we witnessed that play out in real-time.

RIPLEY: That's right. I mean, remember this is a city state that has hosted very tricky summits in the past. You think back to 2015 where they hosted the first meeting between the leaders of Taiwan and China. It was the first time that that kind of meeting had happened since China's Civil War in 1949.

And so, obviously this - Singapore is a place, it's trying to kind of carve out itself as a hub for regional diplomacy. And what they have - what they can offer, I mean we're seeing it live is a very controlled environment where the press are only going to take pictures of things that the organizers of the summit want to allow them to do.

Of course that's in some ways similar to the way it is when we are operating inside North Korea on our many trips in to the country. And even yesterday when I went to the St. Regis Hotel, which is where the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his delegation are staying, I was simply in the lobby trying to take some photographs of the North Korean photographers because Kim Jong-un has sent dozens of state media photographers to capture every angle of his trip.

And within maybe five seconds of me just using pulling out my camera phone, a woman put her - put her hand right in front of it and told me to stop filming.

So, this is going to give us a sense of how controlled the images are going to be in the coming days. This is not going to be a free for all, this is going to be exactly what the summit organizers want the world to see.

Which begs the question, what photo opportunities are we going to get over there at Sentosa? Will we see similar to the inter-Korean summits some sort of walk through the - through the - perhaps the beach or the gulf course with president Trump and Kim Jong-un.

Will, we see them sit down at a table and have a chat? What are they going to say to the press? I suppose I really all depends on - on how the talks about denuclearization go, and whether the leaders are in a talkative mood or whether they're walking out of that room quite frustrated.

I would say either one of those are a real possibility, based on the fact that you have U.S. and North Korean representatives meeting here in Singapore right now, trying in the 11th hour to hammer out if they can - if they can come any closer, if the two sides can come any closer to the definition of denuclearization.

North Korea, in their own state media putting out a statement saying they're not going to unilaterally disarm.

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Because for the North Koreans, yes, they want to improve their economy and they're here with the United States to try to make a deal, to try to improve economic - the economic situation for North Korea.

But they would never put their economy above the security of their government. They always want to make sure that their government led by Kim Jong -un remains in power. And they want assurances from the United States that that will happen.

And so, the nuclear weapons have given them leverage, they've gotten to this point, they view it as a nuclear deterrence. It's going to be very difficult to get the North Koreans to simply say, yes, we're going to get rid of it in six to 12 months, as some members of the Trump administration has said, that's the bold step that they need in order for the U.S. to provide the kind of economic relief to North Korea that they're seeking.

CHURCH: Right. Will Ripley, just stand by for a moment there in Singapore. We do want to go back to David Kim in Tokyo, Japan. And it's interesting, David, when we see the control there in Singapore with the media. That would suit Donald Trump to a T, wouldn't it? He can now totally control this situation. But we get back to this discussion about the definition of denuclearization.

We knew the statement from North Korea said they want to tackle denuclearization and they want to look at a durable piece, but the reality is, even at this point, when they've got the two leaders in Singapore waiting to have this historic summit, they don't have a shared understanding of what denuclearization is.

KIM: I think you're right. I think we have to understand this reality that denuclearization has meant something different for North Korea and for the United States and South Korea. And so to come to an agreement is going to be tough.

And this is why negotiations moving forward are going to be critical. I think Secretary Pompeo has made the right decision by bringing our top diplomat, one of our top diplomats to South Korea and to North Korea for negotiations in Panmunjom. And I think that we're making the right steps, but time will tell. And I think that we have to be clear eyed in what our goal is coming out of this summit.

And that is a commitment from both sides on denuclearization, a definition, a timeline and a specific scope of how far we can reach into the terms of denuclearization. And that process is going to take years. And I want to be clear that we can't look at this moment and think that one summit is going to solve all this. And I think President Trump has been correct that this will be a process moving forward.

HOWELL: Well, you know, the question also, you say clear eyed going into it, but the question if past is prologue, looking back at the past where there have been similar agreements, North Korea backing out of agreements, they say the United States backed out of agreements, how important will that be for the president going into this to possibly find himself, David, in one meeting after the other after the other. But trying to get to that goal of denuclearization. It just seems to continue to go down the road.

KIM: Right. I think he is very clear when -- President Trump is very clear when he says that we will not make mistakes of the past, echoed by Secretary Pompeo, we will not make mistakes of the past. And so we have an opportunity here moving forward.

And I think we've brought the right mixture of ingredients, we have dialogues going in Pyongyang, we had dialogues in New York, and we had people on the ground in Singapore. And these are the -- this is the makeup of diplomacy that will lead to hopefully to an agreement. But we have to be clear that the process starts now. And that moving forward, will be more important than what we've done.

CHURCH: David, I did want to ask you this because it's one thing to get an agreement and we saw that back in 1994, it is another thing to implement that agreement and to verify it and make sure that North Korea abides by the rules.

And again, in 1994 and beyond it was discovered that that was a sham. Now, admittedly there were issues on both sides, the United States didn't fulfill its side of the bargain as well. But to ensure that same problem doesn't occur and certainly, the background being that we know that United States, that Donald Trump got rid of the -- abandoned the Iran deal, so that increases the pressure doesn't it, do this better this time?

KIM: I would disagree. I think that the Iran deal is a separate agreement and President Trump is trying to make it better. I think North Korea, the deal with North Korea is a new opportunity. I think we have to be clear of what were the mistakes of the past and not miss -- and not repeat those mistakes. But you know what, the maximum pressure campaign will not cease, as Secretary Pompeo stated, until North Korea shows credible and verifiable steps towards denuclearization.

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HOWELL: David Kim, thank you so much for your time. Now, if we have with us Will Ripley. Will Ripley, just to get your thoughts we have a couple f minutes left here before the top of the hour.

But again the history that we're watching come together, we just saw President Trump there coming together with the prime minister of Singapore. We're just hours away now from this historic meeting.

Given your time, your travels to North Korea, this is something that the North Koreans have wanted. They've wanted dialogue; you've always reported that during your extensive travels. What do you think about what you're seeing?

RIPLEY: Oh, it's just really extraordinary, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Singapore with a large delegation. When we were at his hotel and his security officers, seven of them were in the elevator with me as we were riding up.

It's almost like a clash of cultures that you're seeing here, because North Korea ha for so long been so isolated from the rest of the world. Some argue it's a self imposed isolation, others argue the isolation is the result of policies of North Korea's enemies, that's what the North Koreans would say that the hostile policies of the United States have forced them to be isolated.

And yet now this is a country and a leader and Kim Jong-un that seems determined to put himself out there on the world stage. Yes, he waited six years before stepping in to prime time but here he is, hob knobbing with world leaders, all eyes on him.

And so far, he has passed the public image test in terms of how he's handled himself. But the question is going to be, how is he going to do in these negotiations with the U.S. President Donald Trump?

CHURCH: And to Will Ripley, bringing up to date on this situation and the leading to this historic summit, he's there in Singapore. He'll stay with us in to the next hour, thank you so much or watching CNN Newsroom-

HOWELL: Thanks Will-

CHURCH: At this hour. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell, we'll be back at the top of the hour with more news.

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HOWELL: Less than a day before his summit with Kim Jong-un, President Donald Trump, he is meeting with Singapore's prime minister --

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