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Trump, Shinzo Abe Joint News Conference. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired June 7, 2018 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translation): On this topic, we took good amount of time and carried out in-depth and candid exchange of views. I'm not able to talk about the details of what we discussed, but one thing I can say is that Japan and the United States are always together.
I strongly hope that this historic summit in Singapore will be a resounding success. There is a beautiful port town, Niigata, facing the Sea of Japan. A mere 13-year-old girl, living there, was abducted by North Korea.
Forty-five years have passed since then, during which time family members, single-mindedly prayed for her return and kept on waiting. The parents became old, remaining time is slipping away.
It is the long-held desire of the Japanese people to have her and all of their abductees come home so that the parents, while they are healthy, can embrace the girl and other abductees again, in their arms.
ABE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Of course, I wish to directly face North Korea and talk with them so that abduction problem be resolved quickly. To this end, I am determined to take all possible means.
On behalf of the citizens of Japan, I would like to thank President Trump and the people of the United States for their understanding and support toward the resolution of the abduction issue.
Japan will continue to ask for complete implementation of the successive United Nations Security Council Resolutions. There is no change at -- at all for Japan's policy to seek comprehensive solution of the abduction, nuclear and missile programs, and to realize real peace in the northeast Asia. This is what Japan strongly hopes for.
Now, a major step forward is about to be taken. Donald, President Trump, you are about to make a new history. Not only Japan, but the whole international community is strongly looking forward for the United States-North Korea summit to open doors toward peace and stability of the northeast Asia. North Korea abounds with rich natural resources. North Korea has diligent workforce. If North Korea is willing to take steps toward the right direction, North Korea can see a bright future ahead for itself.
Japan, based on the Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Declaration, is prepared to settle the unfortunate past, to normalize our diplomatic relations, and to provide economic cooperation. Japan wishes to play the role as much as possible. Donald, I value highly -- highly your strong commitment to world peace and prosperity.
In closing, I wish to add that Japan stands ready to make every effort to assist you for the success of U.S.-North Korea summit. Thank you.
TRUMP: Appreciate it. (inaudible)
So we'll take a few questions. We can start. John Roberts, go ahead.
QUESTION: Mr. President, on -- on the subject -- and I have a question for the prime minister, as well. On the subject of -- of North Korea, how far are you willing to go, in terms of economic, security, political guarantees with Kim? Are you willing to move down the road toward normalizing relationships -- normalizing relations with North Korea, as the prime minister suggested he was willing to at some point?
You teased us, as well, out on the South Lawn here last week. You said that you might sign a peace deal to end the war. Where are you with that? And -- and what was in the letter?
TRUMP: Well, the letter was just a greeting. It was really very nice. Perhaps I can get approval to put it out. It was really a very warm letter, a very nice letter. I appreciated it very much, and nothing other than, "We look forward to seeing you, and we look forward to the summit, and hopefully, some wonderful things will work out." So it was really very warm, very nice. We appreciated it.
I think, John, that we are going to --
-- we're going to have a great success. I don't think it will be in one meeting. I think it'll take longer than that. This has been going on for many, many decades. This is something that should have been solved by other presidents, as I've said often before -- long before this point. They waited 'til the last second, and they shouldn't have waited. This should have been solved by many others. I'm not just saying President Obama. I'm saying other presidents. Long time ago, this could have been solved, in a lot easier manner, and a lot less dangerous manner. But it wasn't, so I'll solve it, and we'll get it done.
TRUMP: As far as the prime minister's concerned, we've -- we will agree, and we have agreed that we're going to be helping. If the deal is done, we're going to be helping North Korea, we're going to be working with China, we're going to be working with South Korea.
President Xi of China has been terrific, the border has been certainly more closed than ever before. I'd like him to close it a little bit more, but it's been more closed than ever before. China has never worked with us this way and you know I give him a lot of credit because as you know we're in a dispute as to the imbalance of trade.
It's a massive imbalance in China's favor, it's been that way for many decades and it should've also been handled by previous presidents, but it wasn't so we'll handle that too. But I give President Xi tremendous credit and I give President Moon tremendous credit, he really would like to see something happen.
They've been living with the threat of war from their beginning, and it doesn't make sense and I really believe that Kim Jong-un wants to do something, I think he wants to see something incredible happen for the people of North Korea.
So we have a lot of great opportunities right now. Shouldn't have waited to this point, but we have a lot of great opportunity. John (ph), please?
QUESTION: Mr. President, would you be willing to go so far as to normalize relations with North Korea? And what about the idea of signing some sort of an agreement on the 12th to end the war?
TRUMP: Well it could be, we could sign an agreement, as you know that would be a first step. It's what happens after the agreement that really is the big point. But I - yes, we could absolutely sign an agreement, we're looking at it, we're talking about it with them, we're talking about it with a lot of other people.
But that could happen, but that's really the beginning. Sounds a little bit strange, but that's probably the easy part. The hard part remains after that. Normalizing relations is something that I would expect to do, I would hope to do when everything's complete.
We would certainly hope to do that. I know that Prime Minister Abe and President Moon have told me very strongly that they are going to go and they will help them economically, tremendously. Japan has a tremendous stake and so do they.
We on the other hand are very far away, we're very, very far away. But Japan will be helping, I believe China will be helping economically also. I think China wants to see something very good happen, very positive happen.
And certainly South Korea has already stated their - their intentions, they will be very helpful. So there are a lot of good factors lined up for North Korea, a lot of tremendous factors that give it tremendous potential. It has tremendous potential because the people are great and we would certainly like to see normalization, yes.
QUESTION: And Prime Minister Abe, if I could address you as well. We know how important an issue the abductees is for you, President Trump said at Mar-a-Lago during your last meeting that it's a very important issue for him, as well.
We know about the medium range ballistic missiles. Did you get an assurance from President Trump that he would address both of those in his first meeting with Kim?
ABE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Today, we had long hours of discussion with President Trump, good amount of discussion. On the issue of abduction, I was able to have a detailed discussion and I think President Trump fully understands the situation he supports the position of Japan.
Last year, President Trump visited Japan. On that occasion, he met with the families of abductees. I told you about the 13 year old girl abducted, the mother of this girl met with President Trump and very seriously he intently listened to the voices and views of the family members.
So President Trump, amongst the world leaders, I think he is one of the -- the leaders who understands the issue the most -- the greatest.
So at the upcoming summit, the importance of abductee abduction would be explained to Mr. Kim Jong Un.
What about the medium-range missiles? As I said earlier on in my statement, the Security Council's resolution must be implemented. All weapons of mass destruction and all ballistic missiles, these are the words used in the resolution of the Security Council.
In other words, the Security Council resolution must be completely implemented. On this point, between Japan and the U.S. and international community share the same view. I'm convinced about it. Thank you.
ABE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Mr. Shino (ph) of TBS, please. Next question, please.
QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Thank you. My name is Yuza (ph) from TBS Television. I have question for both President Trump, as well as Prime Minister Abe.
You have not used the -- the language of applying the largest pressure on North Korea, but are you continuing with (inaudible) sanctions? And the denuclearization you will be asking before that, and what is the deadline for the denuclearization?
And my question to Prime Minister is, how to apply pressure to North Korea? And the tone of the language. Are you in full agreement, complete agreement with the United States?
ABE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): President Trump has stated that we are implementing sanctions, and those sanctions are very strong sanctions. He also stated that until North Korea takes the action, the sanctions will not be lifted. And Japan is in full agreement, and Japan's position is perfectly in alignment with the United States.
And in our summit meeting this time, we had in-depth discussion with President Trump as to how we should respond to North Korea.
And as for what (ph) the future policy on North Korea, inclusive of the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting, we have detailed coordination aligning our positions.
As I have already mentioned, Japan and the United States are always together. Japan and the United States will be in full alignment to seek success for the historic U.S.-North Korea summit meeting in Singapore. TRUMP: Yes. Thank you very much. Maximum pressure is absolutely in effect. We don't use the term any more because we're going into a friendly negotiation.
Perhaps after that negotiation, I will be using it again. You'll know how well we do with the negotiation. If you hear me saying we're going to use maximum pressure, you'll know the negotiation did not do well, frankly.
We -- there's no reason to say it. We, in the meantime, haven't removed any sanctions. We have a list of over 300 massive, in some cases, sanctions to put on North Korea, and I've decided to hold that until we can make a deal. Because I really believe there's a potential to make a deal. And I just don't think it's nice, going in under those circumstances.
But, yes, the campaign hasn't changed. China has continued to hold the border. We, again, would like them to do more in that sense, but they've been really good and the president has been very good.
But maximum sanction is there. We are leaving all of the existing sanctions on. We have many, many sanctions to go, but I don't want to use them unless it's necessary.
TRUMP: And I don't think it will be necessary, but we will soon know. OK? Thank you.
Saagar Enjeti -- where's Saagar? Daily Caller.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
TRUMP: Thank you.
QUESTION: I have a question for the prime minister, as well.
Mr. President, under what -- you've said repeatedly that you are willing to walk away from the negotiations if they don't do well. Under what exact conditions would you be walking away from that summit? And if the summit does go well, will you be inviting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the United States?
TRUMP: Well, the answer is yes to the second part of your question, but certainly, if it goes well, and I think it would be well received. I think he would look at it very favorably, so I think that could happen.
All I can say is I am totally prepared to walk away. I did it once before. You have to be able to walk away. If you're not going to be able to walk away -- we didn't walk away from the horrible Iran deal that was signed, and if you look at what's happened, since I signed that deal, Iran -- and in all fairness, I say it with great respect for the people of Iran, but Iran is acting a lot differently. They're no longer looking so much to the Mediterranean. They're no longer looking so much to what's going on in Syria, what's going on in Yemen, and lots of other places. They're a much different country over the last three months. And again, I say that with hope that maybe something can happen.
But when you mentioned sanctions, we're putting sanctions on Iran, the likes of which nobody has ever seen before, including, frankly, North Korea. That would have been the next phase, if we did it, or find it necessary to do. But nuclear, to me, is always first, and we're going to be fine, with respect to Iran.
But we also, Saagar, got something out of it that's very important. A lot of the people that write about this, some of whom I have great respect for, but they haven't picked it up -- Iran is not the same country that it was a few months ago. They're a much, much different group of leaders, and I hope at some point they'll come to us, and we'll sit down, and we'll make a deal that's good for them, and good for us, and good for everybody, and it'll be great for Iran. I expect it to be -- I want it to be great for Iran.
But if they would have walked -- our side -- from some of the horrible provisions that you know as well as I do, and probably everybody sitting here knows, we could have had a great deal. Nothing wrong with a deal, but there's something wrong with that deal. We had a great opportunity to make a phenomenal deal.
So I am totally prepared to walk. It could happen. Maybe it won't be necessary. I hope it won't be necessary to walk, because I really believe that Kim Jong-un wants to do something that is going to be great for his people, and also great for his family, and great for himself. OK? Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Sir, if you do invite him to the White House -- or, to the United States, would it be here at the White House, or at Mar-a-lago?
TRUMP: Maybe we'll start with the White House. What do you think?
QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, you are the only major world leader not to have a sit down, or a planned sit down with Kim Jong-un. You hinted in your address today that you would be willing to do so on the matter of abductees. Do you have any plans currently to do so, and would it be focused solely on abductees, or would you be willing to have a separate denuclearization discussion with Kim Jong-un directly without the United States? Thank you.
ABE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Of course. On the issue of abduction, we have to resolve this problem. With Abe administration, this is of the highest priority, and if anything contributes to that resolution, if the talk leads to the solution of the problem between U.S. and North Korea or between Japan and North Korea, meetings we -- we wish to have.
On the issue of abduction in the final analysis, Chairman Kim Jong-un and between me, between Japan and North Korea, problem has to be solved. Of course Japan -- for Japan, missile issue and nuclear issue very important.
Nuclear issue, missile issue, regarding these issues at the U.S. and North Korea summit meeting, first and foremost I'm hopeful for the progress. And then on the issue of abduction, the -- we will liaise, we will collaborate with the U.S. and international community and on -- and Japan ourselves must talk directly with North Korea in the final analysis, I am determined about that.
ABE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Mr. Hiyashi (ph).
QUESTION: Thank you. Prime Minister Abe, I have question to Prime Minister as well as President Trump. Starting with Prime Minister, you have already mentioned to a certain degree, on the abduction issue in order to hold Japan North Korea summit, the premise is that you need to obtain results for the abduction issue.
What kind of concrete pathway are you envisioning to hold the summit meeting? In your meeting with President Trump today, have you asked the President Trump to raise the question of abduction at the U.S. North Korea summit meeting in Singapore?
Next is my question to President Trump. You have the -- Kim Jong-un has maintained his position that abduction issue is something that already had been resolved. So what kind of explanation has been given to the United States on abduction issue?
And the -- the North Korea to U.S., the head consultations, and how should we approach North Korea in order to seek solution for the abduction and what did you convey to Prime Minister Abe today in this regard?
TRUMP: (Inaudible) because I will tell you on the Prime Minister's behalf that he very much talked about abduction.
It was pre-eminent in our conversations. He talked about it long and hard and passionately, and I will follow his wishes and we will be discussing that with North Korea, absolutely, absolutely.
Prime Minister, go ahead.
ABE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Now, at our Japan U.S. summit with the meeting we had at the Mar-a-Lago in February, today once again as President Trump has mentioned already, I have explained on the abduction issue once again, and I have conveyed to him the earnest wish of the families of the abductees.
And President Trump once again has stated that the abduction issue will be raised at the upcoming U.S. North Korea summit. Now at the U.S. North Korea summit meeting, as to the concrete matters to be discussed, I would like to refrain from mentioning this at this juncture.
But in any case, Japan's fulsome (ph) position were explained at length and President Trump has given his understanding and he has promised that the issue will be brought up at the summit meeting in Singapore, and I am delighted of this. President Trump and the international community -- I would like to closely work with President Trump as well as the international community, to seek solution to the issue.
In solving the abduction issue, Japan itself needs to have direct consultation with North Korea. I have not changed my resolve in doing so.
And under this decision and resolve, what will be conducive to solve the abduction issue? Of course I will have to think about the summit meeting -- for Japan-North Korea summit meeting. If we are to have the summit meeting, the nuclear -- the missile.
And what is more important? The abduction issue -- the solution to all these issues must be resolved (ph). And I hope that we will be able to realize the summit meeting, which would lead to solution of the problems.
But first and foremost, we need to seek advancement for the abduction, nuclear and missile programs. Japan and U.S. should closely cooperate with each other so that we will be able to see great success for the historic U.S.-North Korea summit meeting.
And Japan would like to -- to give our all-our efforts in support. Thank you.
TRUMP: I'd like to just close by paying my highest respect and regards and love, frankly -- I've got to know them very well -- to the Warmbier family, the incredible family of Otto Warmbier, who was a brilliant, beautiful, terrific young man and he has not died in vain, I can tell you that. He has not died in vain.
So to the Warmbier family, our love and our respect.
Also, I'd like to say that we were tremendously successful in getting our three hostages back and I'm very thankful to the cooperation that we received from North Korea.
And the three United States citizens are now very happily ensconced in their homes with their families. They're very happy. They didn't think this was going to happen. And, frankly, it would never have happened but it has.
So I just want to wish them well, also. They had a tough journey, but I really respect the fact that we're able to work with the North Korean folks and get them out.
They're very, very well-ingrained already. They're back into -- they were telling me, they -- they're now going to movies and they're going out to dinner, and they're back. They're back in our country, and it's -- it's a terrific thing.
I believe we're going to have a -- a terrific success or a modified success. But in one form or another, if it all goes -- and things can happen between now and then. But I know many of you are going, and I look forward to seeing you there. I look forward to traveling with you. It's a long way. But I really believe that we have the potential to do something incredible for the world. And it's my honor to be involved. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.
[14:54:58] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The president of the United States, the prime minister of Japan, they're walking back up into the White House, the West Wing of the White House. They had a joint news conference. The president said at one point he expects to have a great success when he meets with Kim Jong-Un in Singapore on Tuesday. At one point, he said maybe a terrific success, maybe a modified success. But he said they could potentially also sign an agreement to end the war after all of these years. He said sanctions against North Korea will not be lifted until there's an agreement involving denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. "I really believe," the president said, "we can make a deal." He also at one point said he is open to inviting Kim Jong-Un to coming to Washington to coming the White House for a meeting.
Christiane Amanpour, you listened closely to what the president and the prime minister had to say, a pretty upbeat assessment from both men.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think so, and it was designed to be so. You did mention what the president was saying at the end, and it could be very success, medium successful, or not successful at all. He did sort of warn everybody to listen out for the words he used. If he started to use the words "maximum pressure" again, we know the summit had not gone very well.
He was broad in the outlines of what he hoped to achieve beyond saying it was essentially going to be a get-to-know-you meeting. This kind of stuff should have been done long ago and it's a dangerous place than it used to be, North Korea, since they have the nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and the nuclear weapons. But he seemed to be saying even if he did -- he went into detail about the possibility of offering a final peace deal to North Korea. Even if they did do that, he said that would be the beginning of a process and not the end of the process. The hard work would start after that.
The prime minister of Japan was more focus in what he wanted out of this. The abductees and the missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Unless all of that is agreed and promised, the U.N. sanctions of maximum pressure should stay on. He said it over and over again.
What a lot of people are wondering is, what happens if there's a successful meet-and-greet and good body language and agreement to talk about it, there is a peace deal offered but haven't extracted real promises from North Korea, then what happens? How do you go back and start again with the maximum pressure and keep sanctions on?
But I think North Korea has shown they have done things that people were surprised about. Suspending their nuclear testing and suspending their missile testing. We hear that they are trying to tell the diplomats, they have to get with the picture, today is a different day, it's not the North Korean of many years ago.
So we will literally have to wait and see how the summit goes in Singapore to see where the next steps will be.
BLITZER: A matter of a few days from now.
Gloria Borger, what jumped out at you?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST What jumped out with me is Abe effectively saying you cannot have a deal unless the abductees come home. I mean, he could not have been clearer about that. That that was such a big priority to him. He didn't want the president to do anything without that. And the president said, finally, when somebody asked him, that he would follow Abe's wishes. He said, "We will talk about it." He didn't commit to making it part of a grand plan. But it was a large part of the conversation. It sounded almost as if it is as big a part of the conversation as the issue of short- range and long-range missiles were. And Abe was determined, completely determined, and clearly said to the president, without that, there can't be a deal as far as we are concerned.
BLITZER: And, Jim Sciutto, you have covered that Korean peninsula for a long time. Tell us what jumped out to you.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The president telegraphed what appears to be the goal for the summit beyond the meet-and-greet, which is the possibility of officially ending the Korean War and signing a peace agreement. This, after multiple changes and expectation management by the administration just over the course of the last week. Remember, it was a little more than a week ago when there had to be a hard commitment of denuclearization that had swung back, 180, to, well, we're going to meet-and-greet and get to know each other, and the process of denuclearization will take many years. Now you have what appears to be an attainable goal during that time. A good thing. Not clear though, what I didn't hear from the president or the Secretary Pompeo last week or the president of Friday, what has North Korea committed to? What has North Korea given up? Have they made a commitment on what the president, again, said was the key issue, which is denuclearization? Have they? As of a few days ago, the president and his advisers were saying North Korea is still thinking about whether it's going to denuclearize. So it's good to end the Korean War some 60, almost 70 years later, but on the key issue of denuclearizing, we have not heard or seen any --