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Trump and Kim Vow to Denuclearize North Korea; Trump Says U.S. to Stop War Games with South Korea; Kim Jong-un: We Decided to Leave the Past Behind; Trump When Asked if He Trusts Kim: "I do, I do;" Trump: Kim Said No Other President Could Do This. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired June 12, 2018 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:26] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Top of the hour, 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Good morning, everyone, to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Anderson Cooper joins us again this morning from Singapore which is 48 minutes of history was made and the president did what his predecessors have not, sitting down with the North Korean leader then wrapping up a whirlwind press conference more than an hour long after that much anticipated summit, hammering out a vague but potentially historic agreement with Kim Jong-un.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The president is on his way home this hour having won a pledge that North Korea will, quote, "work" toward the, quote, "complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula." Details to be determined, though. In an hour long news conference after five hours of meetings and a half dozen photo-ops, the president declared this, quote, "a very great moment in the history of the world."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no limit to what North Korea can achieve when it gives up its nuclear weapons. This is complete denuclearization of North Korea, and it will be verified.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The president insisted all he gave up was his time but he also announced that he's ending decades of joint military exercises with South Korea. That is a colossal concession.
I'm joined now by CNN's Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlan, that's not in the declaration signed by the two leaders but that's something that the president announced in the press conference and surprised certainly a lot of people.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. We didn't find out about that agreement made between President Trump and Kim Jong-un until that press conference when he was asked about a portion of that agreement that they signed where it said that the United States would offer security assurances to North Korea should they commit to denuclearization. Now the president was asked, does that include those 25,000 troops on
the Korean peninsula, he said not in the immediate future but he did leave the door opening to it happening in the future and then he said he wanted these joint military exercises to stop because he thought that they were costly and provocative, even though those are U.S. military exercises, I should note. So that's certainly something that is raising a lot of eyebrows.
That statement as a whole that President Trump and Kim Jong-un came out and signed in front of the cameras after they had met one-on-one and then with their advisers was very vague. There are several points in it and it gets at a vague commitment to denuclearize the Korean peninsula but it doesn't offer a concrete timeline of when or how. So those are the questions the president was faced with today.
He was also asked if he brought up human rights with the North Korean dictator during their meeting after he said that Kim Jong-un was talented, he thought, and that response from President Trump was, yes, he believes that's he's talented but he didn't say that he was nice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He is very talented. Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough. I also will be inviting Chairman Kim at the appropriate time to the White House. I would -- I think it's really going to be something that will be very important, and he has accepted. I said at the appropriate time. We want to go a little bit further down the road.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So there the president saying he would invite Kim Jong-un to the White House. Not really touching on his human rights abuses. This is someone who's executed his own people, some people in his own family. But back to the statement, the overall effect from this summit and what we actually got out of it, there are a lot of questions being raised because the president said they were going to stop those joint military exercises. He left the door open for withdrawing U.S. troops.
There are no new sanctions. It really is leaving the -- creating the question of what did the United States get out of all of this and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he briefed reporters in the building next to me just 24 hours ago said the main objective while they were here was to CVID, complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.
That is language that is not included in this agreement that the president signed his name too earlier today, Anderson. So it seemed to be heavy on the photo ops but light on the commitments to denuclearize.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, a lot of the language that they signed on to is language that North Korea has promised in the past.
COLLINS: That's right. It says multiple times that they're reaffirming their commitment to denuclearize, reaffirms just simply means they're repeating what they've said in the past and we've seen how that's worked out in the past. This administration has been very critical of deals that past administrations have made with the North Koreans, but in this agreement that we've got in front of them today the president said it was a comprehensive agreement but it's actually quite short.
2[09:05:05] There is no new language in here and no new agreements from the North Koreans. It seems to be a return to the status quo here, Anderson.
COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much.
HARLOW: All right. So let's talk more about the pledge that the president made to end those joint military drills with South Korea. He called them war games. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Our Pentagon Correspondent, Barbara Starr is with us.
So, Barbra, it was striking that the president said that. He called them war games. He called them provocative. He talked about the cost of them, the six plus hours it takes to fly U.S. bombers from Guam to the Korean peninsula.
What's the reaction from the Pentagon this morning?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, here at the Pentagon what they're telling us is they will be in line with the president's directive as soon as they actually figure out what exactly he's talking about because he gave very broad language, so let's step back a minute.
They're on a steady state about 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea but they are there solely for the defense of South Korea and these training exercises, the president calls them war games, are for the defense of South Korea against any imminent North Korean threat. These are not about conducting war, they are about defending South Korea if there is a North Korean threat.
So the war games, they have been going on for many years and, in fact, a major one is already scheduled for August, just weeks from now. So what the Pentagon has to figure out is what does the president really want to happen? Does he want an immediate total cessation? No more training exercises? What would those 28,000 troops in South Korea do now? Will it be just during the negotiations? Will it be all exercises? Will it be the big ones, the little ones? Will it be everything? And what does this actually mean for the allies? Because the Pacific
nations, Japan, Australia, other nations in the region also rely on these exercises, also participate in them to help train their own troops to be ready in that region. So there's an awful lot to sort out here, but make no mistake, Kim has got two things pretty much out of the U.S. as a result of these negotiations.
He certainly has some commitment on ending the exercises and the president indeed opening the door to withdrawing those troops from South Korea. Just yesterday Defense Secretary Mattis said it was all going to be steady state. No big changes in the works -- Poppy.
HARLOW: This is a huge change, a significant change. A change that would likely be unwelcomed by Moon Jae-in and South Korea or at least something they'd want a heads up on. Do you we know if South Korea knew that the president was going to agree to this and then vocalize that agreement?
STARR: Well, I think it was very clear that nobody had the details. We've seen the statement already out of the Blue House, the presidential office in Seoul. That they're trying to figure it out. We're getting the same general word around the Pentagon since early this morning. We've been asking sources throughout the U.S. military and what they are telling us is that they will -- the U.S. military will now work with the White House, work with the State Department and try and figure out a way ahead. There's very little way to interpret that other than this came as a surprise -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Yes. A surprise of something Kim Jong-un really wanted and now he has at least in the near term.
Barbara Starr, thank you. Anderson.
COOPER: I'm joined now by two of CNN's National Security Analysts, David Sanger is here with me, from "The New York Times," and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.
David, first of all, just kind of big picture, a lot of the wording again as we said in this joint declaration, this joint statement, is wording that deals have been made from North Korea in the past. I mean, same wording.
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's absolutely right. Some of the wording goes back to 1992, North-South agreement which was much more specific, some to the Clinton era 1994 agreement to Bush era documents and, in fact, this agreement specifically references the agreement reached between North and South Korea a few weeks ago.
So the words complete denuclearization are there. They're nowhere defined and there's no timetable. Previous agreements have committed North Korea to allowing IAEA inspectors, international inspectors, back into the country to adhering to International Arms Control Treaties and so forth.
COOPER: So you're saying it's actually even less specific. SANGER: It's less. Now the president's bet is that none of that
matters. That what matters is that the two of them met.
SANGER: That they built up some trust and that he's doing this from the top down now and that all previous presidents who tried to do it from the bottom up.
[09:10:05] Maybe he's right. We don't know. But that means that Mike Pompeo, the secretary of State, is now about to go down the line that John Kerry spent two or three years doing with the Iranians, which is to try to negotiate bit by bit from this very vague framework into what that really means, and history with North Korea suggests that's going to be really tough. It's going to hit a lot of bumps in the road.
The president did get one additional thing from the North Koreans. They began destroying last week a pretty important facility, a test stand for the engines that are used in the intercontinental continental missiles. These were big to Kim Jong-un. He showed up at one of those test stands when they were testing a big Soviet design -- old Soviet missile from years ago that ultimately ended up powering some of their intercontinental ballistic missile test.
So if, in fact, it's destroyed that would slow down their ability to reach the United States. We don't know how further the North Koreans are willing to go.
COOPER: Gayle, how significant is this concession by the U.S., the idea of stopping what the president calls war games with South Korea obviously views as defensive exercises?
GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think like everything in this summit it will all come down to definitions and how you define what that means. There's a June 2nd press conference with the South Korean Defense minister and Secretary Mattis in which they spoke of an iron clad commitment from the United States' side to South Korea. And so I don't think many people expect to see dramatic changes. And this is all along been a fight over definitions.
You know, on the North Korean side how do you define a denuclearization and demobilization and I think from the American side what the North Koreans wanted, is de-escalation and some level of development, right? And how people define these four Ds I think will really lead to the answers to what is going to become a sort of diplomatic mad libs that we're about to face, right? Where Secretary Pompeo and his team really go back and do the filling in the blanks, what does this all mean.
And I think the big thing to watch, too, is what happens with China and Russia? All along you've had this campaign of maximum pressure that the United States has applied with sanctions that actually have had a bite. The question now I think is whether maximum pressure yields to minimum enforcement while the dialogue is going on and on who's side is time when it comes to what comes next. COOPER: Gayle raises an important point about sanctions. You know,
the president says look, sanctions are still in place, yet probably from China and Russia, they may look at this and start to -- at the U.N. -- talk about reducing sanctions.
SANGER: Well, Gayle's exactly right. In fact, what's happened on the ground is that the Chinese sanctions, which are the most important because that's the main border over which North Korea trades gets all its energy, that's already beginning to lift. Why is that? Because all the Chinese want is the preservation of the status quo and they were afraid the North Koreans were going to push Donald Trump into starting up a war.
If in fact the North Koreans can get Trump into something of a head lock here and keep the negotiation going for a while, that's fine with the Chinese. They're less interested in the outcome than just making sure that there's a status quo and, in fact, they don't want an outcome that would overtime draw North Korea more toward the West, more toward the United States.
COOPER: I would imagine China also would be enthusiastic about the U.S. no longer having joint military exercises with South Korea. Obviously that's something that they could view as a threat to them?
SANGER: These military exercises are pretty much aimed at an invasion from the North or scenario of conflict with the North but what the Chinese would really love is anything that assures that American nuclear weapons are kept out of South Korea and that American -- any ballistic missile batteries are kept out of South Korea. They believe those are aimed at defending against China or could have an offensive role against China.
So if you view the Chinese role as push the Americans back to the second island chain, make sure that China's got its own run in the Pacific, then this is all-important to them. Who else is going to be upset by all of this? The South Koreans who as you heard from Barbara Starr have been taken by surprise, and the American military, which if you called them up yesterday and you said, well, what about just stopping these military exercises for a while, they would give you chapter and verse about how these exercises are the core of the relationship between the U.S. military and the South Korean military so that they can operate jointly under stress.
COOPER: Yes. David Sanger, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, thanks very much.
HARLOW: All right. Ahead for us, they have signed a preliminary agreement as you saw. The president says, though, that he can trust Kim Jong-un. Should he?
Also, more on that other summit, the G7, and the clash that continues between the United States and its closest allies, why the president says Justin Trudeau is going to cost Canada "a lot of money."
COOPER: President Trump and Kim Jong-un are being seen around the world. The two leaders repeatedly shaking hands, signing the agreement.
Their remarkable pictures signal a new era potentially in the relationship between the US and North Korea.
Kim himself saying it's time to leave the past behind, but while most of the world was watching this, the question is did the people of Kim's notoriously reclusive nation even know what was happening? 2 CNN's Paula Hancocks is also in Singapore. She has more with us. Paula?
[09:20:05] PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, they don't know at this point how the summit went. They have not seen any images or any footage on KCTV, the state-run TV, that shows that this has happened.
What they have seen, though, is from last night. You and I were talking about that when Kim Jong-un was doing his walkabout around the town, his mini tour of Singapore.
So, they have seen him being almost presidential. They've seen him being welcomed by the people of Singapore. There were many tourists, many residents that were shouting out "Welcome, Mr. Kim," and screaming as he walked into a building.
So, clearly, what they have seen so far would suggest that he is being treated with respect here in Singapore. Anderson?
COOPER: And it's not clear at this point exactly what has - what will come out of this, of course, Paula. Do you have a sense of at what point people in North Korea will be informed about the North Korean perspective because we really haven't heard much from the North Korean side about how they perceive the events here?
HANCOCKS: That's right. What we usually see, Anderson, is there's kind of 24-hour delay before the state-run media will react to anything.
Now, we know that there were cameraman following Kim Jong-un's every move. We have seen them all along the way, even in the convoy. You saw the cameramen sticking out of the sunroof following their leader.
So, clearly, there will be a lot of coverage on this. They even heard about the summit before Kim Jong-un had arrived here. So, that's quite unusual to tell the North Korean people ahead of time, clearly, thinking that this was going to be a success.
But one key thing that they will be hearing about is the fact that there was this rapport between Kim Jong-un and the US president. And one key question that our CNN's Jim Acosta asked the US president as well, when it goes the other way around is, does the US president trust the North Korean leader?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do. I do. I can only say that I know him for - really well. It's been very rhetorical, as you know. I think, without the rhetoric, it wouldn't have happened. I think without other things going along. I think the establishment of a new team was very important.
We have a great team. But I do. I think he wants to get it done. I really feel that very strongly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANCOCKS: So, what North Korea will hear is that their leader was on an equal footing at this summit with the president of the United States.
COOPER: Something past leaders of North Korea have wanted as well. Paula Hancocks, thanks very much. Poppy?
HARLOW: All right. A big question this morning, as you just heard the president say, Kim Jong-un can be trusted. Can he? What does history teach us?
David Andelman is here. He's a CNN opinion commentator, formerly "The New York Times" bureau chief for Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. It's nice to have you here. You heard the president this morning, I trust Kim and he trusts me.
Has Kim given the Trump administration and president any reason to be trusted?
DAVID ANDELMAN, CNN OPINION COMMENTATOR: OK. I think what we may be seeing here is what I call a three-part con on the part of Kim, which may actually work in our benefit eventually, but, initially, I think this is the way it plays out.
First of all, Kim looks around him and he says, gee, I'd like to see a Burger King on every corner, I'd like to see an NBA-quality basketball team - Dennis Rodman was talking about on CNN early this morning - in Pyongyang.
I'd like to see all of that. I want that. I saw it 20 years ago when I was in Switzerland. The only way I'm going to get that is by playing along with this. OK? That's number one.
The second part of the con is he wants out from under the boot heel of China - and Russia, to a degree. He doesn't want to be beholden. He doesn't want to be the kind of the poor cousin that constantly has to go begging to china.
And the third is Gaddafi. He doesn't want to get rid of his nukes because he's afraid he'll wind up like Gaddafi did when he got rid of his nukes.
But he may also have looked more deeply and discovered that Gaddafi, in fact - one of the problems with Gaddafi was that he was like - he treated all of his people like dirt and gave them nothing back. Now, Kim has the possibility of doing that.
HARLOW: Except that's exactly how Kim Jong-un treats those who live in North Korea economically.
Let me ask you this. Looking at the language - and Kaitlan Collins outlined it nicely earlier in the show. There's really nothing new here in this language.
And if you look back to 1994 and you look back to the Clinton administration and the agreed framework - that was the terminology then, right? - with North Korea. The president, President Clinton at the time, said this agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies and good for the safety of the entire world. That fell apart.
What is different, if anything, this time?
ANDELMAN: Well, the circumstances are different. We have a different leader.
HARLOW: But in the agreement?
ANDELMAN: Oh, yes. In the agreement, there's nothing different. There's no doubt about that. And, frankly, I think it's going to take a very long time.
I go back -- my first summits were in Europe in the 1980s when I was covering Reagan and Gorbachev in Reykjavik. It took two years to get to that summit and another two years past that before we actually got to a treaty on nuclear weapons and nuclear missiles with the Soviet Union.
[09:25:12] I think we have a long way to go, a long path to go before we get something concrete that we can really say changes the equation.
HARLOW: Let's listen to what President Trump said in this press conference this morning about other administrations, past administrations dealing with North Korean regimes and dictators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He said no other president could have done this. I think he trusts me and I trust him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: All right. That was the wrong soundbite. Guys, do we have it? Do we have the president talking about other leaders?
I can read it for you. He said, look, it wasn't a priority if they could've done it. I don't think they could've done it if it was a priority, frankly, et cetera. I think we have it. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The other groups, maybe it wasn't a priority. I don't think they could have done it if it was a priority, frankly. And it would have been easier. For me, it would have been much easier if this were ten years ago or five years ago.
And I'm not just blaming President Obama. I mean, this goes back for 25 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: He clearly thinks other administrations could have done this, but didn't do it. Is he right or is the situation markedly different now because Kim Jong-un has developed this nuclear capability and, therefore, that gives him a seat at the proverbial table?
ANDELMAN: Oh, yes. Something (ph) to trade away. But, remember, Obama, when he first met - when he last met with Trump in the White House on the very eve of the inauguration, your biggest challenge is -
HARLOW: Will be North Korea.
ANDELMAN: North Korea. And sure enough, it is. And now, he's found a way to take care of it. Maybe take care of it.
But, sure, the others could have gotten to that point. I mean, Madeleine Albright went to Pyongyang, met with Kim. And she said to him - she said to Obama, she said, look, this is not going to work, this is not going to be a very good idea because we don't want to give him that kind of ratification, if you will, of his being an important individual.
But now, the circumstances are different. They didn't have a bomb then. They didn't have the ability to get it to our shores. That's what's different now.
HARLOW: The president said that, at the appropriate time, he would consider inviting Kim Jong-un to the White House.
HARLOW: Wise idea?
ANDELMAN: Yes, why not? I mean, if we get to that point where we really do have a verifiable agreement, sure.
HARLOW: But, I guess, what needs to happen before --
ANDELMAN: Oh, a lot.
HARLOW: Kim Jong-un is invited to the White House specifically.
ANDELMAN: A lot. We have to get to that as Reagan and Gorbachev did, the negotiators in Geneva did, two more years of serious talks and then actual framework and actual let's see what actually gets done on the ground, let's get those inspectors in.
I did a commentary for CNN Opinion tracing back some of the previous steps that were taken or not taken. And I showed that, in fact, under the previous Kims, his father and grandfather, we actually had inspectors in there and then they threw them out.
HARLOW: Right. And the president answered a question this morning about what kind of inspectors would you have, international, American and he said both. But, again, not many details on what that would look like.
David Andelman, nice to have you. Thanks for the expertise. Appreciate it.
All right. While touting his special relationship, the president's words with Kim Jong-un, President Trump takes a swipe this morning again at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Why he says Trudeau will cost Canada a lot of money?