Return to Transcripts main page


Trump to Meet Kim Jong-un at DMZ. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired June 30, 2019 - 00:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A warm welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I am Jim Sciutto on the demilitarized zone, the DMZ, between North and South Korea as we await the possibility of an historic first-time meeting between the U.S. president Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Just a short distance from here, a couple miles away, what's known as truce village, marking the line between North and South. We're waiting for confirmation the meeting is happening. It was brought up yesterday by the president in a tweet.

We're told now by the president himself in public comments that the meeting is in the final stages of preparation. In fact, just moments ago, he said he was positive or at least hopeful the meeting would take place. Have a listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been told that Kim Jong-un would like to meet and it looks like they're in final stages of working out a quick meeting because I'll be at the DMZ anyway, the border. I'll be at the DMZ.

And I look forward to saying hello to him if that all finally works out. I guess there's always a chance it might not. But it sounds like the teams would like to have that work out.


SCIUTTO: U.S. presidents have come to the demilitarized zone before; President Obama did. President George W. Bush, Clinton, Reagan before him. But they have never come to this border here and met directly face to face with the North Korean leader.

Before that President Trump met with the South Korean leader, President Moon Jae-in. They've been meeting in South Korea discussing, among other things, possible South Korean payments for U.S. troops based in South Korea here.

In a short time, they will give a joint press conference, in just a few moments' time, in fact. Our Anna Coren, she's in Seoul. She's been covering the meeting so far.

Anna, what has been the topic of conversation between the two leaders who will both in fact come to the border here for this possible meeting with Kim Jong-un?

ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Jim, as we heard from President Trump as well as President Moon, they have discussed many things. Obviously trade deal was one of the things. But obviously this meeting between the U.S. president and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un is really the topic of conversation. And that is what everyone is waiting to see, if it will in fact eventuate.

As you said, Trump made that tweet yesterday. It seemed like it was a last-minute, spur of the moment thought. But from the analysts that we have spoken to over the course of the morning, they said that there is so much planning that goes into something like this. You can't just decide in the space of 24 hours that you want to meet with Kim Jong-un at the DMZ and possibly walk over that military demarcation line, which is what Trump has said he is prepared to do.

When he was questioned about that at the G20, he said he'd be very comfortable to do that. If he did do that, he, of course, would be the first American president to step into North Korea. It is a huge moment.

But obviously, Jim, analysts saying this is style over substance. This is not -- it does not bring us any closer to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula but rather just a photo opportunity, something obviously Donald Trump enjoys, as does the North Korean dictator.

Analysts, critics are saying this is just the U.S. president rewarding the North Korean leader for virtually nothing. U.S. intelligence will tell you that North Korea has continued to develop weapons of -- nuclear weapons program, its nuclear weapons program and that, by having these photo opportunities, by legitimizing the North Korean leader, this is just a way of rewarding him, Jim.

SCIUTTO: We should remind our viewers that in just a few moments' time President Moon of South Korea and President Trump will have a joint press conference. We're going to bring those comments to you live.

And, Anna, you make a good point here. This would be the third face- to-face meeting between Kim and Trump. The prior one in Hanoi, Vietnam, of course, ended without any agreement. The one before that in Singapore as well.

By the administration's own standards, the intent of these talks, these negotiations are the full denuclearization of North Korea. As you note --


SCIUTTO: -- they've taken no steps to do that and, in fact, other concessions North Korea seems to have backed off in recent months. For instance, they are no longer turning over remains of lost U.S. service members from the Korean War.

How significant a development is that in recent weeks?

As well as we've also seen some bubbling up of that bellicose rhetoric as well from North Korea in recent weeks, too.

COREN: Yes, that's right. You mentioned that short-range missile testing which we saw back in May and the bellicose remarks made by the North Korean officials, by their media, which we know is obviously part of the state machine.

You know, this is a country that has been pushing the limits, if you like, pushing the boundaries, seeing how far they can push the United States. And while there was obviously condemnation when those short- range ballistic missiles were fired, Donald Trump, the U.S. president, didn't seem too perturbed.

He sort of, you know, really just brushed it away, believed that he could continue, you know, at their relationship with Kim Jong-un, that they had something meaningful and that this was really just trivial.

So it's an interesting dynamic. Obviously, there hasn't been a lot of background talks between the two countries. And we know that the North Koreans at this stage are refusing to deal certainly with their South Korean counterparts and even with the Americans.

Kim Jong-un, it would seem, Jim, really only wants to deal with the American president. And as you know, as I was saying, the critics of what is happening here believe that this is not the way to go, that we are just rewarding a dictator, someone who is a human rights abuser. By giving him this opportunity to appear before the U.S. president it just legitimizes him on the international stage.

SCIUTTO: It's important you mention that. Because we do see a smiling Kim next to Trump in a short time in the demilitarized zone, we should remember he is a brutal dictator who has murdered members of his own family. He holds tens of thousands of political prisoners in North Korean prisons. The people starving as he funds his nuclear program.

You're looking at live pictures there. We're awaiting a press conference between the South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Trump. And we're also waiting here at the demilitarized zone. The possibility of a historic meeting, the first meeting at the DMZ between a U.S. president, Donald Trump and the North Korean leader.

I'm joined here just a couple of miles from where that meeting would take place by Paula Hancocks.

Paula, you've covered this country for some time. Tell us about what a leap this would be for the North Korean leader summarily, really, following a tweet by the U.S. president, no prior planning, to show up at the border here for a not particularly deeply planned meeting with the U.S. president. PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, if this wasn't preplanned and we're being led to believe this was an off-the-cuff suggestion, there would have been confusion and panic in North Korea. This is not how North Korea operates.

And we saw an extremely quick response from them, quicker than I've ever seen in the years that I've been here, saying that it's an interesting suggestion but they want an official invitation. There's certain protocol you have to do when you're dealing with North Korea.

Of course they will be catching up. This is going to be an opportunity that the North Korean leader is not going to want to miss.

SCIUTTO: Tell us about the political dynamic of a U.S. president in effect coming to the doorstep of North Korea to meet with the North Korean leader. Because North Korea has sought this kind of recognition of its power for many years.

And traditionally U.S. presidents have avoided that kind of gesture because it is legitimizing, it's in effect normally a reward for other concessions or progress in actual negotiations. This would be the third meeting. And in his back yard as it were.

HANCOCKS: There is one argument saying will Kim Jong-un see this as being summoned by the U.S. president?

I don't subscribe to that. I agree with you. The fact is President Trump is coming to his doorstep. He is going to meet him. It will be whatever it will be, a two-minute meeting, a handshake. So certainly this is a propaganda coup for the North Korean leader.

SCIUTTO: These are live pictures here. We have President Trump and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea preparing to step up to the podium there. This taking place in Seoul, about an hour's drive from where we are at the DMZ.

The South Korean president and the U.S. president have been meeting this morning. They discussed business. They discussed trade. They've discussed South Korea paying more for U.S. troops stationed here.


SCIUTTO: Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The Republic of Korea and President Donald Trump of the United States of America will begin their joint press conference. I ask everyone to please take your seats.

Open remarks will then move on to questions and answers. Open remarks will be given first by President Moon Jae-in, followed by President Trump. You will now hear from President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea.

MOON JAE-IN, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I extend my warmest welcome to President Trump, to the Republic of Korea. Today, the Korean Peninsula, together with President Trump, has become the land that is most noted on Earth.

Since the declaration of armistice, in 66 years' time, the United States and North Korea will be meeting in Panmunjom for the first time in history. The leaders of the United States and North Korea will be standing face to face in Panmunjom, the symbol of division, and make handshakes for peace.

They will continue to communicate and engage each other in dialogue, we can move toward the best situation. This is something we'll be able to see for ourselves today. South and North will be able to become confident about peace and the world will provide their support and cheer on President Trump and Chairman Kim with high expectations.

What we need here is enduring peace on the Korean Peninsula. I hope that President Trump will go down in history as a president that has achieved peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Peace requires more courage than conflict. I would like to extend my appreciation to the two leaders for being so brave and I am very overwhelmed with emotions because we have been able to prove the way toward peace for the Korean Peninsula.

Continuous dialogue is the only viable option for achieving complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Today, President Trump and I have reaffirmed that we're absolutely on the same page when it comes to denuclearization and that we share common goals.

In particular, as complete denuclearization and peace building on the Korean Peninsula and normalization of U.S.-DPRK relations were the goals committed to in the Singapore agreement, we concur that implementing this agreement simultaneously and in parallel would be vitally important.

To that end, I hope the dialogue between the U.S. and the DPRK will resume as early as possible. And I hope that there will be a promise made between the leaders of the two countries, together with the people of the Republic of Korea.

And not only the security for the Iraq-U.S. alliance has become a comprehensive strategic alliance that strengthens cooperation in not only security but also economic region and global issues. Such steadfast U.S. alliance is working as the linchpin for regional peace, stability and prosperity. And we have decided to continue in close coordination.

As the president said, I believe this is a victory for both countries as we have this established an institutional framework with the course of the amendment. Today our two leaders have agreed to further accelerate the momentum to expand trade and investment and further expand the course alliance to a mutually reciprocal economic alliance as well in regional and global issues as well.

Our two countries will continue to work very closely together as strong allies. The Asia Pacific region is a core region for peace and prosperity for both countries. Under the regional cooperation principles of openness, inclusiveness and transparency, I believe that Korea's new southern policy and the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy can find common ground.

Recently we have shared in our concerns related to the attack on the oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and the escalation of tension in the Middle East. Freedom of passage and freedom of transit in the Gulf of Oman is very important for the stability of the Middle East and security of international energy.

I have a high regard for the careful restraint shown by President Trump. We have agreed to closely cooperate for stability in the Middle East.

President Trump and I will not forget the history and spirit of our great alliance. Our two countries will work very closely in cooperation as strong allies with this visit to the Republic of Korea.

We have once again reaffirmed our common objectives and strategies. I'm very glad and heartened by this. Going forward, we will continue to work very closely together and be frank and open in our discussions --


MOON (through translator): -- and communications to strongly solidify and develop the ROK-U.S. alliance.

President Trump is the maker of peace on the Korean Peninsula.

You really are the peacemaker of the Korean Peninsula.

I hope this meeting with Chairman Kim Jong-un at the Panmunjom will bring hope to the people of South and North Korea and that it will be a milestone in the history of humankind toward peace.

Again I would like to extend my warmest welcome to President Trump to Korea. Our friendship will continue to grow deeper and greener as the leaves of early summer. Thank you.


We will now hear the opening remarks by President Trump.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. I'm just going to make a very short statement because we're going to the DMZ border. And I'll be meeting with Chairman Kim. I look forward to it very much. I look forward to seeing him.

We've developed a very good relationship. And we understand each other. I do believe he understands me and I think I maybe understand him. And sometimes that can lead to very good things.

I want to start by just thanking President Moon and, very importantly, first lady Moon, who's a very special woman, very special spirit. She loves your country very much, as does President Moon. We had a great dinner last night together and spent a large part of

the morning discussing lots of different things, including trade and military, frankly, and many other items.

But I thought I would just mention that, when we came here, our great ambassador, we arrived last night. Our great ambassador, who's here someplace, Harry, was talking about the turmoil going on because of the level of -- there was a vitriol, the level of vitriol that was happening between North and South.

But it was North to a large extent, where there was a lot of risk and a lot of threat and a lot of bad things were happening. That was before I became president. And as you know and the media knows very well, because they covered it, frankly, very well and very fairly, at the beginning there was a lot of anger between myself and Kim Jong-un, who since something happened.

There was a point at which it happened and all of a sudden we get along. And I figured that when he was in Japan, where they hosted a fantastic G20 -- and I want to just thank prime minister Abe because he really -- they did a fantastic job and a lot of good things came out of that, a lot of good meetings with other countries, I can tell you from the standpoint of the United States.

But we decided to come here a while ago as part of going to the G20. I promised President Moon. And then yesterday I was just thinking, hey, I'm here, let's see whether or not we can say hello to Kim Jong- un. And I put out the word and he got back. And he wanted to do it from the beginning and so did I.

But there's a lot of good feeling when sometimes the media will say, gee, what's happened?

Well, they know what's happened. What's happened is there was nuclear testing. There was ballistic missile testing. They had hostages of ours, as you know, a very tough situation.

And now we're getting back our remains. We got back the hostages. There's been no ballistic missile tests. And there's been no nuclear tests. And South Korea's a whole different place.

And Japan, Prime minister Abe was telling me Japan is a whole different place. They had missiles going over Japan on a very constant basis. You know that very well.

So I hate to hear the media give false information to the public when they say, oh, what's been done?

What's been done?

A lot's been done. And there's also a good feeling. I can tell you on behalf of President Moon, he feels much better about even Chairman Kim. I mean, he feels much better. They couldn't have meetings. Nobody was going to meet. President Obama wanted to meet and Chairman Kim would not meet him. The Obama administration was begging for a meeting. They were begging

for meetings constantly and Chairman Kim would not meet with him. And for some reason, we have a certain chemistry or whatever. Now let's see what happens. We have a long way to go. But I'm in no rush. The sanctions are on.


TRUMP: And I'm in no rush. I'm in no rush with Iran. I'm never in a rush. If you're in a rush, you get yourself in trouble.

So I just want to say that we're going to be heading out to the DMZ. And it's something I planned long ago but had the idea yesterday to maybe say hello, just shake hands quickly and say hello because we haven't seen each other since Vietnam.

But a great meeting in Vietnam. People don't realize it. We had a -- it's all part of the whole negotiation. But we had actually a great meeting in Vietnam. We had a great meeting in Singapore. Everyone gave us praise for Singapore and not for Vietnam.

I think, frankly, the meeting in Vietnam, in terms of a deal, was more important than Singapore. So I think what I'd like to do is we'll take one or two questions, as I understand it, and then I'm going to head out to the DMZ and pay my respects to everybody, including some soldiers.

We have some -- we have tremendous military here in South Korea. And we're going to see some of our great American soldiers. We'll be talking to them. And I'll be seeing Kim Jong-un.

And if you would, you could start with a question. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Thank you very much. We will now take questions from members of the media.

I know this is a very busy time. So we will just take one question each. A question from a reporter, which will be answered by President Moon followed by the White House and President Trump will answer the question. It will be interpreted consecutively. So please remove your earpieces.

We'll now first take a question by the Blue House. (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Korean).

(through translator): In this case, what kind of progress do you believe today's meeting will bring about to the inter-Korean relations?

And I'd like to ask you what possibility do you see of a third U.S.- North Korea summit happening this year?

And in your written interview with many media from around the world, you mentioned that the dismantlement of Yongbyon facilities may be the start of a denuclearization. Did you discuss this within today's summit meeting with President


And what was the response from the U.S. side?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome, President Trump, upon your second visit to the Republic of Korea.

At the restricted bilateral meeting this morning, President Moon, you had mentioned that you will be accompanying President Trump to the DMZ but the focus of the dialogue that will happen at the DMZ will be between President Trump and Chairman Kim.

And you said that you are looking forward to much progress being achieved there.

So at once the contact is established between President Trump and Chairman Kim at the DMZ, what kind of progress do you expect in the subsequent negotiations?

And how about the possibility of a third U.S.-North Korea summit happening before the end of the year?

And my third question relates to the written interview that you had given to various agencies recently. And in that interview, you had mentioned that, if North Korea, under complete inspection, verification from the international community, if North Korea dismantles the nuclear complex in Yongbyon, then the international community could explore the sanctions relief, the partial sanctions relief.

So has there been any discussions regarding this issue this morning?

And what was the response from the U.S. side?

MOON (through translator): Invited to Panmunjom as well. But today the focus will be discussions between North Korea and the U.S. That is to say, President Trump and Chairman Kim's meeting and any conversation that the two leaders have and linking that to further additional dialogue in the future.

That in itself is the main significance of today's --


MOON (through translator): -- travel to the DMZ, I believe.

So inter-Korean dialogue will be set aside for the moment. The focus will be the discussions between the U.S. and North Korea. A third North Korea-U.S. summit and the timing of that, really, that would depend on what kind of change today's encounter will bring about.

But we have expectations for future developments obviously.

The last portion of your question related to Yongbyon nuclear complex and whether if that is completely dismantled with sincerity, then that would mean irreversible denuclearization or the beginning of an irreversible denuclearization from the part of North Korea.

So if those types of actions are taken out in sincerity, then a consideration of the international community for sanctions relief could happen. I was giving you a context or a background to my thoughts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- this afternoon. However, as I had mentioned, the focus of the dialogue today will be the dialogue between the United States and North Korea. And, of course, President Trump and Chairman Kim will have a reunion and have subsequent dialogue. And I hope that -- and I do believe that this is vastly significant for the dialogue that will follow after the meeting today.

And also today there will be a dialogue between the United States and North Korea. But as for the inter-Korean dialogue, this will happen at a later time.

As for the question regarding the third U.S.-North Korea summit, I believe that how the reunion and the dialogue and the meeting turns out this afternoon will have a great say on when and whether the U.S.- North Korea summit will happen for the third time.

So I do expect some progress there.

As for the last question, what I had explained was that if North Korea goes through the dismantlement in a genuine way, a dismantlement of the nuclear complex in Yongbyon, then this will mean that we will be entering -- we will be arriving at the entrance of an irreversible substantive denuclearization.

So if this indeed is implemented, then the international community will be able to discuss partial sanctions relief. And I -- my words were in this context.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we'll take a question for President Trump. Ms. Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, will choose who will ask the question.

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm going to let our president choose.

Go ahead, Mr. President.



TRUMP: She's learned very well.

Thank you very much, Stephanie. I appreciate it.

Just to add one thing to your question from CBS, it's just a step. It might be an important step and it might not. But what we're doing today is a step. And probably it's a step in the right direction. There's a good feeling. So it could be very good.

As far as another meeting, I think let's see what happens today before we start thinking about that. But it could be very -- it could be very important.

Let's see. A question. Go ahead. Next.


MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG: Thank you, Mr. President. Margaret Talev with Bloomberg News. I hope you'll indulge me since we get one question. I'm going to try to make it count.

Why do you want to step into North Korea?

And what do you think that handshake could actually accomplish?

Nothing has substantively changed since Hanoi. North Korea has tested short-range missiles.

Why does Kim Jong-un deserve this moment?

And how do you respond to the critics who say it's nothing more than a photo op or that you're legitimizing a nuclear state?

I also quickly need to get in one China clarification, which is your agreement with President Xi as of yesterday, does that bring you back to the point in April, where they had made a lot of concessions on I.P. and that sort of stuff?

Or are you back at November, back at the beginning of the process?

TRUMP: So it's two very distinct questions. Before you do a third -- I know. You'll do that in a second.

No, we've made tremendous strides. Only the fake news says that they weren't. If you look again, I don't have to repeat it but if you look again at where we were 2.5 years ago --


TRUMP: -- and I think I can say the hatred that everybody had for everybody and where it was going -- and I said that if President Obama's term was, for some reason, extended through any method, including having a successor that thought the way that that administration thought, you would be right now at war with North Korea.

And it wouldn't be pretty. It would be tough. We have the greatest military in the world by far. We have a much greater military now than we had 2.5 years ago, as you know very well. You reported on it. We bought tremendous equipment from jets to ships to equipment for soldiers. But we are in a much different place right now, Margaret, than we were

2.5 years ago, much different. And the previous administration wanted to talk. I would ask people, why aren't they talking. And not everything happens with talks. Some bad things happen with talk, too.

But in this case we are so far advanced from where we were 2.5 years ago that it's always insulting and I think it's why the press, frankly, has lost such credibility. They've lost such credibility.

But to think that we're comparing where we are now to 2.5 years ago is -- in a way, it's insulting. But we're doing well. Let's see what happens in the end. But we're doing well. A big difference.

And as far as China's concerned, we are where we are. We're collecting 25 percent on $250 billion and China's paying for it, as you know, because as you know our inflation hasn't gone up. China's devalued their currency in order to pay for the tariffs. And in addition to devaluing, they've also pumped a lot of money into their economic model.

They've been pumping money and we haven't. We've been retracting. We've been raising interest rates and they've been lowering interest rates. So we're not playing on a fair field. The Fed has not been of help to us at all. And despite that, we're winning and we're winning big because we've created an economy that is second to none, greatest in the world.

And one of the things that happened at the G20, in fact, the president came up and said the same thing to -- President Moon, congratulations on the economy, what's happened in the last 2.5 years is incredible. It's incredible.

If the other thought process would have won the election, we would have, instead of being up 3 percent, we would have been down 5 percent in my opinion. And I think you would have had a stock market crash because we were heading in that direction. It would have been very, very ugly.





TRUMP: And just to complete, you have to value the stock market from the day after I won because there was a tremendous surge after I won because of the fact I won. Because want that thinking instead of the thinking that we had.

If I hadn't won, right after the election on November 9th, you would have had a tremendous decrease in the stock market. So I notice that the previous administration is given credit for thousands of points of gain right after the election. No. It went up because I won and will take the credit. And if you

take that credit, we've increased the stock market values by more than 50 percent. You have to take that credit. It went up only because I won. And it went up a lot between Election Day and -- you know and when we ultimately took office. And from there it went up a lot. It continues to go up a lot. And now we're setting records virtually every day.

And just to conclude on China, President Xi and I had a fantastic meeting. It's a great meeting. We get along. We also have a really, really good relationship. And he wants to see something happen. And so would I. And I think there's a really good chance of that happening. We had a great meeting. Thank you.



MOON: (Speaking Korean).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry but we don't have much time and it's time for us to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) they don't want you to be a mediator in this case.

How do you respond?

Do you trust President Trump?

And if you can take us to the moment when you are at the border each of you, you are at the demarcation line, what do you believe that stepping over that line may represent for the United States and for the world?

Thank you very much.


Your first question was to President Moon, right?

(Speaking Korean).

MOON: (Speaking Korean).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First of all, we are indeed striving to achieve peace through dialogue but this does not necessarily mean that we will only travel in one direction. Sometimes we'll go straight but sometimes go through a long and winding road.

There comes a time when we have to pause and sometimes we have to retreat. However, I can reassure you the only way we can achieve peace is through dialogue.

[00:40:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the meeting this afternoon at Panmunjom will become a truly historic, a great moment in the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you.


SCIUTTO: There you have it. History will be made at the demilitarized zone. The DMZ just behind us here. President Trump will meet President Kim of North Korea. Just moments ago, the honor of announcing that historic meeting given to the South Korean president, President Moon.

Though moments later, President Trump confirming it as well. He said it will be a step, just a first step but a step in the right direction.

Here is President Trump announcing to the world that he will meet the North Korea a short -- meet the North Korean leader a short time from now.


TRUMP: As we're going to the DMZ border and I'll be meeting with Chairman Kim, I look forward to seeing him. We've developed a very good relationship. And we understand each other. I do believe he understands me. And I think I maybe understand him. And sometimes that can lead to very good things.


SCIUTTO: The president went on to say that all of a sudden we just got along, describing his relationship with the North Korean leader. But when confronted with the facts and that is that, since the prior two meetings between Kim and Trump in Singapore and Hanoi, that there has been no progress toward denuclearization by North Korea, which is the standard set by this administration as the function of these talks.

The president claimed it's only the fake news, noting that. Of course that's not true. These are the facts.

And you know this because you've been covering these negotiations very closely, Paula Hancocks.

What then is the function of this meeting today if, after the two prior meetings -- they actually sat down and talked details of a potential deal of denuclearization but came away with nothing?

What is accomplished today beyond -- listen, the history of meeting face to face but largely a photo opportunity.

HANCOCKS: If President Trump does step across the border, across the MDL into the North Korean side of the DMZ, as he said yesterday, he would be very comfortable doing, then he goes down in history. He becomes the first sitting U.S. president to ever go into North Korea.

When it comes to what does this mean for denuclearization, it's very difficult to see. Nothing's changed on the ground. The only thing that's actually changed on the ground since the Hanoi summit is that North Korea started testing missiles again. They have fired short- range missiles, which we know doesn't bother the U.S. president but it bothers South Korea and it bothers Japan.

SCIUTTO: Well, it bothers the U.S. military because those missiles put U.S. forces at risk within the range. The president makes the distinction, this is true, North Korea did stop long-range missile tests, ICBM tests that could reach the U.S. homeland.

But those missile tests short-range they have restarted. He cited the return of U.S. service members' remains. That's actually stopped in recent weeks here.

So I suppose the question, and this is an open question, does this personal relationship in a third meeting get those granular talks back going again?

That's the key question, is it not?

HANCOCKS: It's certainly what the president might be hoping for. He said something very interesting in a previous press conference, yesterday, I think it was. He said we have a good relationship, we get on very well, I don't know about beyond that.

And that's very telling. Because, yes, the leader of North Korea and the leader of the United States do have a good relationship as far as we can tell. But when it comes to the countries themselves, North Korean state-run media quoting the foreign ministry just a few days ago slammed the U.S. administration.

They were very careful not to say anything about President Trump himself. But they slammed U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo. They called it vicious slander, talking about the reports, saying they are the world's worst human rights abusers. So yes, you have this close relationship with the leaders, not necessarily the countries.

SCIUTTO: You mentioned human rights abuses because the president also cited the return of U.S. hostages as a sign of the benefits of goodwill, seeming to forget that Otto Warmbier, the American, was returned brain damaged and, as it would turn out, moments from death.

That is not, of course, the return that his parents wanted for their son. And they've criticized the president for also seeming to take the North Korean leader's side when he denied any knowledge or involvement in that death.

Regardless, though -- and credit where credit is due, we will in a short time, within the next two hours, see something that's never been seen before. And that is a meeting between a sitting U.S. president and the sitting North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

It will take place just behind us here inside the DMZ at the truce village, which marks the very point dividing North and South Korea for these 66 years since the end of the Korean War. We're going to continue to follow this remarkable event. We'll be right back.





SCIUTTO: Welcome back. I'm Jim Sciutto at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, where, within the next two hours, we, the world, will witness history. The first time a sitting U.S. president, Donald Trump, to meet face to face with the sitting North Korean leader, the dictator, Kim Jong-un.

They will meet at what's known as the truce village, marking the exact point dividing these countries for the 66 years since the end of the Korean War. That will be coming in the next 90 minutes, confirmed only moments ago by the South Korean President Moon and President Trump himself.

Let's speak for a moment about this setting, where this meeting will take place and what it means.

The demilitarized zone, known as the DMZ, it's a buffer zone between North and South Korea. It is a rugged strip of land, mountainous. It stretches 160 miles, 260 kilometers long, 2.5 miles wide, the most heavily fortified border in the world.

On each side, hundreds of thousands of troops; it is bristling with watch towers, one of which you can see over my shoulder here, razor wire. Thousands and thousands of land mines. Tank traps. Heavy weaponry.

And as we said, on either side, hundreds of thousands of troops, North Korean troops and South Korean troops facing each other on a hair trigger since the official end of combat operations between the North and South some 66 years ago.

That will be the setting of this historic first-time meeting between President Trump and president Kim just in the next 90 minutes or so. Our Jim Acosta, chief White House correspondent, was in the room in Seoul as Presidents Moon of South Korea and President Trump, of course, of the U.S. announced this meeting will take place.

Jim Acosta, here's a question for you. The president presented this possibility, floated this idea to the world in a tweet yesterday and the machinery of North Korea and the U.S. moving very quickly for a meeting that --


SCIUTTO: -- normally would take months of advance planning in just 24 hours and now this meeting's going to happen. To your knowledge was there any preplanning, was there any

prediscussion between the two sides of this meeting or did it really follow that chronology there, the president tweets and, 24 hours later, those two leaders meet?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, you know, I think we're still waiting to find out what the details are, what the tick- tock is in terms of this planning. We do know, if there is a tea leaf to be read in all of this, Jim, we do know that the president was talking up this prospect earlier in the week.

He had the sit-down interview with "The Hill" newspaper back in Washington, where he talked about this idea of meeting Kim Jong-un at the border, according to one of the reporters with "The Hill," who conducted this interview, the White House at that point -- this was not published at the time -- the White House at this point asked that that detail not be published for security reasons.

Now presumably for this kind of meeting to take place, this is not just something that the president can pull out of his hat at the last second in Osaka, Japan, as he did at the G20 summit just 24 hours ago. And then all of this to take place; obviously notifications have to occur with the North Koreans and so on.

We are awaiting those details but we did hear the president a short while ago before he confirmed this meeting was going to take place that this meeting was in its final planning stages. It sounded as though there was tentative preliminary planning going on in the event that this could happen.

We know the president likes to build up these cliffhanger, reality TV style moments. And it sounded over the last 24 hours, we have seen this president, you and I, Jim, for some time now, that he was building up to this kind of moment as he was talking about this, tweeting about this over the last 24 hours.

Now I think what we're going to see here may be more than just a handshake, he has been downplaying exactly how much we're going to see in all of this. But my sense of it, Jim -- and you would know this perhaps better than anyone, having covered the North Korean dictator and this North Korean regime for some time -- Kim Jong-un is not just going to take a day trip to the DMZ to shake hands with President Trump.

My sense of it is we're going to see a discussion take place. It may not be a substantive one, it may not result in much of anything as the president was cautioning, he was managing expectations during that press conference with President Moon of South Korea but he was essentially saying that this was a step in the right direction, he felt, a step that he wants to take at this point.

He bristled at the suggestion that he was rewarding Kim Jong-un for more of his bad behavior; that was a suggestion in one of those questions the president took at the press conference, that he's essentially not going to get much out of this. He bristled at that suggestion and during the press conference said,

well, we would be in the middle of World War III right now and things would be in a much more dire state if he were not elected president.

Obviously the Obama administration people pushed back on all of that. The president is feeling pretty confident that something at least is going to transpire here in the next couple of hours and it looks like it's going to be more than just a handshake, Jim.

SCIUTTO: And when the president was confronted by Margaret Talev of Bloomberg, with the fact that there has been no progress on denuclearization since the start of these many summits, this now the third meeting between them. He claimed -- and I know you have had heard this phrase before, Jim Acosta -- he claimed that that was fake news and cited other signs of progress.

We know you're going to stay on top of it, Jim. Please stand by. We're up here in the DMZ, where, within the next 90 minutes, President Trump will meet with Kim. We are joined by Sam Vinograd, she's a CNN national security analyst.

Sam, let's talk about the facts because the president, as I just noted there, called it fake news when confronted with the reality that there has been no progress on denuclearization, which is the administration's own standard for the success of these ongoing negotiations.

The president did cite the end of long-range missile tests and the return -- stopped recently -- of the remains of U.S. service members. But do a reality check here.

In these months of talks and now as we come up to the third face-to- face meeting, what concrete has been achieved through these negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Jim, what we learned today is that the president's role is not, in fact, the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which was the goal that the administration set over a year ago.

Little has been achieved with respect to that goal set by the administration. We have not seen IAEA inspectors go in to do an inventory of North Korea's nuclear weapons. We have not seen North Korea irreversibly dismantle nuclear facilities.

Candidly, Jim, the first step in any denuclearization process would be figuring out what North Korea has. And Kim Jong-un has not even laid out a blueprint or a road map for allowing for an audit of his existing capabilities. So we have not made actionable steps toward denuclearization.

And what we learned from President Trump today, he was honestly --

[00:55:00] VINOGRAD: -- very honest for a change, was what his definition of peace is. Peace, according to President Trump, is no long-range missile tests and no nuclear tests.

Let's be clear. Kim Jong-un said he does not need to do those tests because he has already achieved those capabilities and, at this point, President Trump has made very clear that denuclearization is not a goal that he is in a rush for.

His definition of peace is none of these long-range missile tests or nuclear tests and President Moon of South Korea seems to share that definition as well.

And I want to, you know, make a point here Jim, making history is not always a good thing. President Trump taking a step into North Korea is a small step for one man and a giant step backward for mankind.

By stepping into North Korea, President Trump will be the first U.S. president to do so but he will be doing a handshake deal, whereby he is normalizing Kim Jong-un's status as a nuclear power as well as a gross human rights abuser, a holder of illegal chemical and biological weapons that he has shown that he is willing to use in a third country.

And as a gross abuser of human rights; every time I hear President Trump talk about the good feelings between Kim Jong-un and himself, which he did multiple times during this press conference, all I can think of is Otto Warmbier's parents or the millions of North Koreans that are suffering under Kim Jong-un's hands.

SCIUTTO: That was a moment for sure, the idea that the return of U.S. hostages was a sign of goodwill, when one of them came home moments from death. Sam Vinograd, thank you very much. Please stay with us.

We are covering a first time meeting between Trump and Kim at the DMZ. We'll be right back.