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Trump-Abe Meeting at Akasaka Palace; European Elections; Juncker Slams 'Stupid Nationalists' Ahead of E.U. Vote; Contenders Line Up to Succeed U.K. Prime Minister May; Trump and Abe to Deliver Remarks after Meeting. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 27, 2019 - 00:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Getting down to business: after three days of pageantry in Japan, Donald Trump sits down with prime minister Shinzo Abe (sic) to discuss persistent differences over trade and North Korea.

European Parliamentary elections redraw the European landscape. Green and liberal parties rise; traditional heavyweights shrink and nationalists win the day in France and Italy.

We are live from the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. Thank you for joining us.


VANIER: So U.S. president Donald Trump and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe (sic) have gotten down to business at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, discussing trade, military ties and North Korea.

During remarks a short time ago, the president said relations between the U.S. and Japan are the strongest they have ever been and that Washington's relationship with North Korea has come a long way.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of things are happening, a lot of very positive things are happening on trade. Personally, I think that a lot of things will happen with North Korea, I feel that. I may be right, I may be wrong but, we have come a long way. There has been no rocket testing, no nuclear testing, very little activity from that standpoint. So we have come a long way with North Korea, we will see what happens.


VANIER: Prime minister Shinzo Abe (sic), spoke ahead of the talks echoing the president sentiments about a strong relationship between their two countries.


SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I am determined to demonstrate, both at home and abroad, that there is a very strong bond between Japan and U.S. in the new era.


VANIER: This is day three of the president's state visit to Japan and we expect to hear more details about their talks when they host a news conference next hour, we will be carrying that live.

Earlier the president made history as the first world leader to meet with Japan's new emperor. First lady Melania Trump accompanied him a few hours ago during the welcome ceremony at the imperial palace, which was filled with plenty of pomp and pageantry. Take a look.




VANIER: CNN's senior international correspondent Ivan Watson joins us live from Tokyo.

There's still a big gap between the U.S. and specifically on the issue of North Korea.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. While these two leaders have been celebrating the close ties between the two countries, two governments and these two leaders, North Korea is a bit of a challenge.

President Trump made it clear in his comments alongside the Japanese prime minister that he is determined to keep going with his diplomatic initiative with the North Korea dictator, Kim Jong-un.

He made the statement that we just heard, that there had been no nuclear testing, there had been no rocket testing. Part of that is just plain wrong, Cyril. On May 4th, North Korea's state media -- state news agency announced that the country had carried out, quote, "large caliber, long-range, multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons drills."

And on May 9th, North Korea said that Kim Jong-un personally oversaw the launch of what the Pentagon later said were two short-range ballistic missiles. That happened less than three weeks ago.

But President Trump has clearly downplayed these missile launches in his determination to try to pursue some kind of diplomatic resolution of the long-running standoff between the U.S., Japan and North Korea, over North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missiles and its nuclear weapons.

And that has put him in a unusual position of contradicting Japan and his own national security adviser, John Bolton, who have all said that those missile launches on May 4th and May 9th contravened United Nations Security Council resolutions, banning that type of activity, where, again, President Trump has downplayed them and said he was not bothered by these.

He has been doubling down on what he sees as verbal commitments --


WATSON: -- made to him by the North Korean dictator.

And it is very clear that both sides would be discussing this in their bilateral talks and also that the ongoing friction will be discussed when President Trump and the first lady sit down with the families of Japanese who are believed to have been abducted by North Korea -- Cyril.

VANIER: Ivan, reporters also managed to get in a question about Iran. And Mr. Trump seemed to entertain the idea that perhaps Japan could play some sort of role in the Iran crisis.

WATSON: This was very interesting; let's take a listen to what Mr. Trump said in response to that question.


TRUMP: The prime minister and Japan have a very good relationship with Iran, so we'll see what happens. The prime minister has already spoken to me about that and I do believe that Iran would like to talk.

And if they'd like to talk, we would like to talk also. We will see what happens. But I know for a fact that the prime minister is very close with the leadership of Iran and we will see what happens. That would be fine. Nobody wants to see terrible things happen, especially me.


WATSON: So part of why this is so fascinating is with tensions flaring between Washington and Tehran, with the U.S. announcing it is sending more troops and weapons to the Gulf, that the Japanese have been meeting with the Iranians.

A little bit less than two weeks ago, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, was here in Tokyo, meeting with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe (sic), both of them reaffirming the friendly relations between these two countries.

The suggestion perhaps that Shinzo Abe (sic), the Japanese prime minister, could relay some kind of messages to the Iranian leadership and become some type of a conduit, as President Trump has made clear that he would like to talk to Tehran.

Perhaps the Japanese could deliver some kind of messages between these two governments who were so fiercely at odds right now -- Cyril.

Ivan Watson reporting live from Tokyo. We may find out some more detail about what Mr. Trump and Mr. Abe talked about and potentially agreed on when they give a press conference. We thought that would be the next hour, it seems things are running a little late, though. Ivan will be with us for that.

Paul Sracic is a professor of political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. He's currently in Tokyo. He joins us now.

It looks to me -- and tell me if I'm wrong -- like, so far, even though on substance there is still a lot of disagreement between the U.S. and Japan, a lot of this visit isn't about the substance, really. And that's what Mr. Trump was saying. A lot of it is about reaffirming the strength of this alliance. And we saw all of that play out over the last three days, with all the symbolism, all the pomp and pageantry.

PAUL SRACIC, YOUNGSTOWN STATE UNIVERSITY: It's about -- talking about the strength of alliance, it's also about the political interests of both Mr. Abe and Mr. Trump. This has been a win-win summit I think for both of them, not really a summit, an official meeting.

For President Trump, he is on the world stage. The backdrops are beautiful and he is being shown great respect. The cheering of the crowds lets him look like a world leader to the domestic audience.

And on Mr. Abe's part, everyone in Japan knows the importance of the U.S.-Japan relationship. So the fact that the president is obviously so happy to be here and there is a strong relationship brewing also I think helps Mr. Abe out into the future. So beyond substance, the visuals here are just really great for both political leaders.

VANIER: We're looking at them as we speak. We see the president with the new emperor and both Japan and the U.S. were at pains to stress how significant it was that the U.S. was there for that and Donald Trump saying something like this has not happened in 200-plus years.

Talk to us about the significance of that, the fact that the U.S. is being invited to meet the new emperor.

SRACIC: Right, and the whole transition to the new emperor was a very big event in Tokyo, with live television coverage of all the transition ceremonies; the abdication, very unusual. That's the 200- year difference that you haven't had, a transition with the death of an emperor.

So that was very significant. Of course, it's not surprising that the U.S. president would be the first guest of the new emperor, because of the significance of the relationship.


SRACIC: But in some ways, with the Trump presidency, when something happens that you would expect to happen, it still becomes very significant. So this is a very good thing for Japan-U.S. relations.

VANIER: Does this mean, ultimately, that the disagreements, whether it's on trade or North Korea, pale in comparison to how important the alliance is?

SRACIC: We hope that is what both leaders see. And although we will have our disputes, we've always had our disputes, particularly trade disputes. It's been going on for 30 to 40 years between the United States and Japan.

But overall, we recognize the importance of the security alliance and we hope we don't let trade get in the way of that. And it has sometimes in the past and hopefully it will not in the future.

But the relationship that's been established between prime minister Abe and President Trump will perhaps make the trade negotiations go a bit more smoothly and put both leaders on the same page when we're talking about North Korea.

VANIER: But on the issue of trade, Donald Trump just has not changed his stance one iota since the very beginning, since even before the days of the campaign. He wants, in his words, to correct the imbalance of trade between the U.S. and Japan.

Is Mr. Abe going to have to make some concession to that?

SRACIC: I think there is a roadmap for the type of concessions that Japan might make and that is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the reductions in agricultural tariffs we saw there. And Japan has been quite clear that they will be willing to go in that direction, although no further.

The more interesting, difficult question will be, will this be a reciprocal agreement?

If Japan does that, what exactly is United States going to do?

Are we going to talk about our tariffs on trucks or will it be enough simply to not increase tariffs on imported automobiles?

That will be interesting to see in the future.

VANIER: We've seen Mr. Trump and how he handles, especially issues of trade with other countries and other allies, and he has a single focus. He wants to be able to bring back to the U.S. -- this notion that he has secured a better trade deal for the U.S.

And I think he's going to want to do that even more heading into the 2020 reelection. So regardless of how much of an ally a country might be in the past, it has not really changed how much Donald Trump approaches these issues.

SRACIC: I think sometimes with the president, you need to separate what he says from what he actually does. And what we have not seen, for example, are, at least on cars, of those tariffs.

I think we also got a hint about what the president is looking for. Right before they went into their meeting, they started to talk about Japanese investment in the United States, particularly in the auto industry, there's been some tough times in the auto industry particularly in the politically important Upper Midwest of the United States.

With General Motors closing some plants, I think if President Trump could point to increased Japanese investment in these auto manufacturers, he would see that as a very big win going into 2020.

VANIER: Yes, that's something he brought up, in fact. It was interesting to see. He pretty much asked the Japanese prime minister to address this topic. He said, there are plants opening since I've become president in the U.S. and Mr. Abe could talk about that. But then he didn't.

SRACIC: Right. And it will be curious if that comes out of the press conference later, if there are plans, for example, for an additional investment. And the president wants to make sure that that got on the air in the United States, encouraging that.

It also gives him some cover with Japan a little bit to say, this is something I have delivered because of my tough negotiating stance, this increased investment, although Japan has for very long --


VANIER: Paul, respectfully, I have to interrupt here. We are getting live pictures in Tokyo of the lunch that is about to happen between the U.S. president and his host, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe (sic). So they have been meeting for a little over an hour now to discuss military issues, trade issues, North Korea, as we've been saying. Now they're having this working lunch. And then later in the day, capping up this day, Monday in Japan, will be a state banquet with the emperor. But obviously that is for later in the day.

So Paul, we will keep an eye on these pictures. But I wanted to come back to you and get one more thing in.

How is Mr. Trump received in Japan?

SRACIC: Well, clearly he is not as popular as Barack Obama. He is not the type of foreign leader that the Japanese --


SRACIC: -- are used to. We don't hear a lot of statements one way or the other, about him. But there was an affection for President Obama when he came here to give a speech in 2009, he was well received.

And I think there is more hesitance. And the Japanese are not happy about the national security tariffs on steel or on automobiles. Clearly, we are allies; we are security allies. So did not play well with the Japanese people to imply that somehow trade with Japan creates a security threat or a national security threat.

So that has been a negative on their relationship and I think Mr. Trump's standing in Japan. Very good idea to attend that sumo tournament. Sumo is very important here, very popular. The fact that he tried to speak some Japanese, gave the trophy, that probably improved his standing a little bit. VANIER: The trophy, which I understand, is known locally as the Trump cup. Paul Sracic, it has been a pleasure having your insights and analysis today. Thank you so much.

We will take a short break as we keep an eye on that lunch meeting between Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe (sic) over in Tokyo. We will be back after this.





VANIER: Europe's centrist parties have lost ground in the European Parliamentary elections. Nationalists made some gains in some countries but overall Europe's populist surge seems to have stalled as millions of voters backed vehemently pro-E.U. parties instead.

Voter turnout was the highest it has been in 25 years, that is worth noting. It stands at 50.5 percent. Green parties picked up votes across Europe, finishing second in Germany. Italy's anti-immigrant lead, the party of deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, was leading the Italian vote.

After speaking with France's nationalist Marine Le Pen and Hungary's populist Viktor Orban, Salvini said the vote allows them to try to change Europe.

Britain's vote was viewed as a referendum on the two main parties, the Conservatives and Labour. Nigel Farage's new Brexit project came out on top.


NIGEL FARAGE, BREXIT PARTY LEADER: If we don't think October 31st, then the scores you've seen for the Brexit Party today will be repeated in a general election. And we are getting ready for it. Thank you.


VANIER: As for Greece's leftist prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, he called snap elections for next month after a resounding defeat.

We have got correspondents around Europe. Let's begin with Erin McLaughlin in Brussels.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, big headlines here at the European Parliament election center was voter turnout. Voter turnout came in at a whopping 50.5 percent, an 8 percent gain on voter turnout from 2014 and the first time in the history of these elections that voter turnout actually increased. They've been on a steady decline first since the elections first happened in 1979. It was a figure I can tell you that will be leave many E.U. officials pleased. Voter turnout, low voter turnout long been seen as a signal of voter apathy.

This showing that Europeans are more enthusiastic about these elections.

Other major headlines from the evening the so-called grand coalition comprised of center right, center left parties for the first time lost its majority.

Now, to put this in perspective, between 2014 and 2019, 74 percent of the legislation that made its way through European Parliament was passed because of the grand coalition. Well, that coalition is grand no more. Now those parties are going to have to be looking at smaller groupings for some sort of coalition to be able to pass legislation.

We've seen big gains from the liberals, the ALDE and the other groupings. We've also seen gains by the Eurosceptics. Strong gains in some areas, but overall this is very much a pro-European European Parliament -- Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Brussels.


VANIER: And CNN's Melissa Bell is in Paris with the French results.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A disappointing evening for Emmanuel Macron tonight. The French president had invested so much time and energy in the campaign of his party in these European elections. It was his first electoral test in the French political landscape that was transformed by his victory only two years ago.

In the end, according to the latest results, Marine Le Pen winning substantially. That will come as a blow to the man that had presented himself only two years ago as the last bastion against populism, the man who will continue to represent pro-European liberal values and some hope for the future of the European project.

Tonight Marine Le Pen's populist and relatively Eurosceptic party has won the evening. Again, a reminder of that retreat behind borders that were seen from a number of populist parties across the European Union tonight. They have not won outright as they hoped to. The populist party is Europe-wide but they have made substantial gains in these elections -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


VANIER: And Atika Shubert is in Berlin with the Green Party's big win.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Germany seems to have had a green wave this E.U. election. The Greens Party made historic gains by promising to tackle the climate crisis.

The party's hardest hit in this election, were the center right Christian Democrats, even though they won the most votes overall. They did worse than they have in previous elections. And the center left Social Democrats who hit a historic low.

Instead, voters went to the fringes. On the left, many voted for the Greens but also on the far right, the Alternative for Germany Party --


SHUBERT: -- which made a breakthrough in the national elections, only made modest gains this time. And the reason we saw these numbers is that the climate emergency is the number one issue for voters in Germany.

You could call it the Greta effect after Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen climate activist. She really has galvanized school strikers here in Germany and that, in turn, mobilized voters to go to the polls.

If anything, Germany seems to have a youthquake happening. According to the national broadcaster, 33 percent of respondents under the age of 30 voted for the Greens -- Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.


VANIER: The Green Party leader said their victories send a clear message on climate action, civil liberties and social justice.


SVEN GIEGOLD, EUROPEAN MP, GERMANY (through translator): The people in Germany, the people in Europe have voted for climate protection and for European solidarity. And that is the signal that is being sent this evening.


VANIER: CNN European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas is watching all of this feverishly.

Dominic, if you take a big step back and try to analyze these results and figure out what it means for the health of Europe, is there more or less love for the European Union after these parliamentary elections?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Cyril, I think when you look back to the last elections that took place in 2014 and look at the incredible ways in which the global political landscape has changed, particularly when it comes to Europe, you had not have the migrant crisis, the Brexit referendum had not taken place, President Trump had not been elected and you have not had all these elections that took place in Europe in places like Italy and Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, that's saw a proliferation of smaller political parties and the need for coalition talks. So in many ways, the European Union today has caught up with what has

been going on in the last five years. It was the subject of conversation during all of that time. It ended up, I think, looking really good when it came down to the Brexit negotiations as a reasonable player.

People came out and voted, which makes it a relevant organization; it is the subject of debates in people's homes. And when you look at the overall ways in which, from just the center right, the center left, the liberals and so on, you had well over 80 percent of people, of MPs, sitting in Strasbourg and Brussels, that are unambiguously in favor of the European Union.

So I think when it comes down to it, the health card is looking rather good at the moment.

VANIER: OK, the center right and center left parties in European politics had been passing together the majority of the European loss.

That's not going to continue the same way is it?

THOMAS: No, it is not going to continue the same way. So in many ways, it reflects what individual leaders are having to do right now, which is discuss, negotiate in order to get legislation through.

One could argue that this is a very good thing for the European Union to be doing. It needs to address the question of populism and of the far right and, in some cases, the legitimate grievances that individuals have, whether it's the Yellow Jackets movement or other areas in the European Union.

And it's no longer going to be possible for just two parties or two groups to be able to pass legislation. It is going to have to speak to the Greens and negotiate with the Liberal Democrats and in which Emmanuel Macron's MPs will be sitting. And I think this is a positive thing for the European Union.

VANIER: Nationalists came in first in Italy, they came in first in France, they came in first in Hungary. Matteo Salvini, the Italian premier, was ecstatic and he says he wants to band together with other far right parties and, essentially, reshape Europe in a way that he would prefer.

What can they do?

THOMAS: Well, ultimately, with the number of seats that they have, very little. But it is clear that, when it comes to the conversation about the direction in which in Europe is going to be going, they are a substantial enough number in Parliament to be able to apply some pressure.

Let's not forget that these far right groups or these populist groups have not always been united. There is a big difference between the conditions that Salvini faces in Italy and the Front National in France, which, yes, did perform well but the Front National, even though it's changed its name now to the Rassemblement National, it's still a party that only reaches 25 percent in its country.

And the Brexit situation and the far right in the U.K. is a single issue. And you can argue that those MPs that are coming to Brussels are not really concerned with Europe but concerned with getting out of Europe.

So it will be interesting to see how they coalesce and are able to apply some lobbying to the European Union, given the fact that their interests are often quite disparate.

[00:30:06] CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Dominic Thomas, thank you very much for your perspective as the results continue to be confirmed and continue to come in after Europe's parliamentary elections. Dominic, thank you.

THOMAS: Thanks, Cyril.

VANIER: The race to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May is on, and with Brexit looming, the challenge for conservatives is just beginning. That's coming up.


VANIER: Welcome back. Our top stories this hour, U.S. President Trump is meeting right now with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, where they are talking about trade, military ties and North Korea.

During remarks at the beginning of their meeting, the president said relations between the U.S. and Japan are the strongest they have ever been.

Three French citizens have been sentenced to die in Iraq, accused of being members of ISIS. Agence France-Presse reports they were captured in Syria by U.S.-backed forces. Iraq's president said in February 13 French ISIS members were in Iraqi custody.

The Centrist Party lost seats to populist and nationalist parties in European parliamentary elections, but the far-right's gains were not as large as expected. Green parties had their strongest showing ever, positioning them for a leadership role in a fragmented parliament.

Even before the E.U. election results, the European Commission president was lashing out at what he called "stupid nationalists." Jean-Claude Juncker spoke exclusively with CNN's Fred Pleitgen on Wednesday. He lamented the rise of populist leaders and Brexit, and also praised Britain's outgoing prime minister, Theresa May.


JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: I have to say yes, yes, to the idea of having a second referendum, although I'm not convinced that the result would be totally different. That's to be seen at the -- when it happens.

But I mean, we -- how could I say, we're observers in a British stadium. They have to decide. It's not up to us, the election.

I'm really fed up, because we are moving from one extension to the next extension, and to be imagining the next extension after the next extension. People are losing patience.

I'm saying to myself, this is a woman of courage. This is a woman who knows how to do things, but she is not able to succeed in doing things that she would like to do things. No, no, no. I like her very much. She's a -- she's a tough person.


VANIER: Jean-Claude Juncker speaking to CNN's Fred Pleitgen there. So far, at least eight British conservatives have announced their bids to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May. She is stepping down, and the race for her job is heating up.

But whoever wins will face the unenviable task of leading the U.K. into Brexit.

Salma Abdelaziz has the latest.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: The race for the leadership of the Conservative Party is heating up, with a key contender, Michael Gove, announcing his candidacy. He is a prominent face of the vote leave campaign and seen as competition to the front runner, Boris Johnson. Take a listen to what Michael Gove said.

MICHAEL GOVE, BRITISH ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY: I can confirm that I will be put putting my name forward to be prime minister of this country. I believe that I'm ready to unite the Conservative and Unionist Party, ready to deliver Brexit, and ready to lead this great country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you beat Boris?

GOVE: I'm entering this contest, because I want to put forward a positive set of ideas about how we can bring our country together. I believe that I'm ready to unite this country, and ready to unite the Conservative and Unionist Party, and I'm looking forward to a contest of ideas.

[00:35:05] ABDELAZIZ: Tory leadership contests are notoriously bitter affairs, with all types of impolite behavior going on. And this love/hate relationship between Boris Johnson and Michael Gove is really reflective of this.

Back in 2016, when Michael Gove was Boris Johnson's campaign manager, just as Boris Johnson was preparing to announce his bid for the leadership position, Gove pulled out, declared Boris Johnson unfit to rule, and declared his own intention to run for the leadership position. So he's seen as a very toxic character within the party.

And the last thing that the U.K. public wants to see is more political in-fighting, more drama after three years of this Brexit nightmare.

Let's run through the process of what's going to happen next. Now, Prime Minister Theresa May will stay in place until June 7. After that, she will move into a caretaker role.

The race officially begins on June 10. There will be a list of candidates. Ten to 15, or even more, are expected. Tory M.P.'s will whittle that down to just two names.

And members of the Conservative Party across the country, some 150,000 people will select one of those two names by paper ballot. The process should be completed at the end of July, when a new prime minister will be in place.

But the next critical date is October 31. That leaves the new prime minister just four months to solve the crisis. So the concern is, is the country could see, potentially, more Brexit delays or a crash out of the E.U.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


VANIER: Deadly weather is still targeting America's Midwest. A tornado levels everything in its path as it touches down in Oklahoma. That's next on CNN NEWSROOM.


VANIER: At least six people are dead across Oklahoma in the latest blow to America's Midwest, hammered by deadly weather for weeks now.

This time, a powerful tornado leveled a mobile home park late Saturday in El Reno, west of Oklahoma City, killing two people. You see the destruction there. It reduced an adjacent hotel to a tangle of debris. Witnesses who lived to tell about it describe what happened as the twister touched down.


RACHEL GARRISON, OKLAHOMA STORM SURVIVOR: I heard it coming. I felt the trailer 80 hit our trailer. I know trailer 80 flipped over on top of 81 which we were in. And after everything was over with, and all the shaking and jarring, and everybody landing on the floor, the sirens went off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sirens went off a little too late.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After that all happened. So just -- so you all were in one trailer and you heard -- did you hear it coming? What did you see?

GARRISON: I felt it. I don't know.

[00:40:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just got real dark real fast and everything started shaking violently. GARRISON: I told him to hit the floor.


VANIER: There was another natural disaster that left a trail of destruction this weekend, this one in Peru. At least one person died, 11 others were injured, when a powerful earthquake rattled the nation Sunday morning.

The magnitude 8.0 quake damaged several homes, schools and roadways throughout the north. Another seven people were hurt in neighboring Ecuador. Officials are still evaluating the damage.

In the coming hour, we expect U.S. President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to deliver remarks at a news conference in Tokyo. This after a bilateral meeting at Akasaka Palace.

Pamela Brown joins us on the line.

Pam, if you set aside the obvious areas of disagreement that seem to remain, Donald Trump looks like he's been thoroughly enjoying himself during this state visit.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (via phone): That's right. No doubt about it. This is a president that prizes pomp and circumstance and pageantry, and that is exactly what President Trump experienced today.

Japanese officials literally rolled out the red carpet for him, making him the first foreign leader to meet the newly-crowned emperor, and really, he was elevated. He was put up on a pedestal, and this is something that, no doubt, President Trump and his team like. You know, it basically made him look as though he is above all the politics in Washington right now, with all the focus on him, and that he has friends in this region.

It was also a signal to China, to other countries, that he does have this close working relationship with Japan. And what's interesting, though, in spite of the president's tweet yesterday, downplaying the threat from North Korea, with the recent short-range missile test, Japanese officials outwardly have not shown that they were overly concerned or bothered by that.

President Trump and Prime Minister Abe seemed chummy, outwardly friendly, taking selfies, and they have been engaged in bilateral talks over the last couple of hours.

Before that, President Trump and Prime Minister Abe talked about the agenda that there are -- there will be three working groups dedicating to defend North Korea and trade. He did say that Abe had spoken to him about Iran, because he will be visiting Iran next month. And of course, Japan and Iran have a close -- a close relationship at a time when, of course, the United States has rising tensions with Iran, in the Middle East.

And so we do expect this press conference to get under way, not too long from now. And of course, North Korea will be a topic of discussion along with trade. President Trump has delayed the deadline for auto tariffs that would impact Japan directly. Of course, that is something that Prime Minister Abe is still trying to stave off.

And so that is another item on this agenda. But no doubt about, that this trip is more about ceremony and substance. Even President Trump sets oneself. He said there wouldn't be any really big substantive discussion on reaching a bilateral trade deal, until after the parliament elections here in July in Japan.

VANIER: Pam, as you speak, we're looking at the live pictures. It's 1:42 early afternoon where you are in Tokyo. We're looking at the live pictures where the U.S. president and his host, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be speaking.

We're expecting that in about 45 minutes now. So, we'll come back to you a little closer to that time, and you'll help us walk us through it.

Pamela Brown in Tokyo. Thank you very much.

All right. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. WORLD SPORT is up next, and I'll be back for another hour of world news in 17 minutes. Stay with us.


[00:45:22] (WORLD SPORT)