Return to Transcripts main page


Former US ambassador on North Korea talks; Students to march on Washington to demand action on guns. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired March 22, 2018 - 15:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, the high school students who survived last month's mass shooting in Parkland, Florida take the fight

for gun safety all the way to Washington. I'm joined by two of them, Cameron Kasky and Alex Wind, ahead of this Saturday's March for our Lives.

Also ahead, President Trump slaps new trade tariffs on China even as he might need President Xi's help for upcoming negotiations with North Korea.

I speak to the former US point man on Pyongyang, Ambassador Christopher Hill.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

President Trump targeted China today, signing trade tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods and causing the Dow to drop a few hundred points in

the process. China has vowed to retaliate, applying its own tariffs to US imports like soybeans and airplanes.

The move could also hurt the president's diplomatic efforts with North Korea. Mr. Trump says that he'll meet Kim Jong-un to try to defuse his

nuclear program, but surely he'll need China to be onside with this diplomacy.

I put that and many other questions and contradictions to a man with answer, former US ambassador to South Korea and North Korea negotiator

Christopher Hill who was in town this week.

Ambassador Hill, welcome to the program.

CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA: Thank you very much. So, everybody is trying to figure out, A, will a summit happen

between President Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un; and B, if it does, will that be good or bad?

So, let me first ask you, Rex Tillerson before he was fired said that the acceptance by President Trump was done on his own, no advice or help from

others around him. What do you make of that?

HILL: By all accounts, that's exactly what happened. The South Korean delegation was in seeing Gen. McMaster and the president said, oh, come on

in and they moved it over to the Oval Office.

So, the president went ahead and said, yes, I'll go meet him. And, of course, the South Koreans were kind of shocked. They thought that would

take a week or two come to that if he was going to come to that.

So, I think ever since then, it's been a question of his aides kind of scrambling to figure out what we ought to do. And Washington is not

functioning very well right now. So, you don't have a sense that the usual people in Korea desk are able to work with the usual people in the NSC

staff, the national security council staff.

So, it's a very big stake summit.

AMANPOUR: What does it mean if there's no actual secretary of state? And the national security advisor, we don't know whether his job is secure or


HILL: My suspicion is that the CIA director who is the designated candidate to be the secretary of state will play a big role. After all, he

clearly has impressed the president with his morning briefings. He knows how to talk to the president. He knows how to kind of impart information

to him.

So, I would hope that Pompeo would have a real role in trying to prepare this president, who seems to want to go on his own instincts.

AMANPOUR: In the meantime, Pompeo is known to be quite hardline, more hawkish than Tillerson was and has said certain things that worry some

people looking at North Korea and people worry that he and Trump together could raise sort of potentially unrealistically hard conditions for talks

or for an eventual settlement. Does that worry you?

HILL: It worries me. But, actually, something else worries me. And we see that the president and the White House press spokesman, Sarah Sanders,

has already talked about, well, we're trying to get a moratorium on missiles.

Well, a moratorium on missiles is quite doable if you're prepared to sit down with the North Koreans. I sat down with them for some four years.

They never fired a missile. They never had a nuclear explosion while we're talking.

So, I think that's quite doable. I'm not sure that really -

AMANPOUR: That's not the end game, is it?

HILL: It doesn't answer the mail here. So, the South Koreans are really front and center here. I mean, we are basically saying, OK, South Koreans,

we're going to do this because of you. Very interesting how that relationship is - we're kind of - we better be confident in what they're


AMANPOUR: Well, if the South Koreans - just now President Moon of South Korea has even posited the thought that they could be a three-way summit

between himself, Kim Jong-un and President Trump.

HILL: Yes. It's very interesting. Obviously, the Chinese will wonder what's going on. The Japanese are going to be really worried about this

because they've been kind of wrongfooted all the way on this.

[15:05:08] So, the question is when the South Koreans say they think that Kim Jong-un is prepared to put his nuclear weapons on the table, is he?

And if so, how is that going to work because right now we don't hear much from the North Koreans on this.

AMANPOUR: This is what one of your former colleague, former negotiator Wendy Sherman told me about Kim Jong-un.


WENDY SHERMAN, CHIEF U.S. NUCLEAR NEGOTIATOR WITH IRAN: I think his objectives are several. One, he is in the driver's seat at the moment. He

has been able to get the president of the United States, most powerful leader in the world, to sit in the same room with him as if he has an

equal. So, he's already achieved a major objective from his perspective.

He ultimately wants to reunify the Koreas, but under North Korean leadership which is certainly not something the United States is going to

agree to. I certainly hope not. And he wants to hold on to his nuclear weapons because he does not trust the United States.


AMANPOUR: So, is that a good recipe for an agreement?

HILL: Well, first of all, there is no question, this is a big one for Kim Jong-un. If you look at this all as a competition between him and his

father, between him and his grandfather, he succeeded where neither his father nor his grandfather were ever able to have a meeting with a sitting

US president.

So, that's a big step. He's got that. Question is, is he going to try to deliver. And if President Trump has the idea that he needs to deliver a

moratorium on missiles, game set match. I think he's already done that.

AMANPOUR: An unprecedented summit might happen, as you said. What from your perspective, what would success look like?

HILL: I think success has to deal with denuclearization. And I think if Kim Jong-un repeats that he is prepared to give up his nuclear weapons, but

he needs to have some assurances and he is prepared to sit down with the Americans on those assurances, that's probably something that we can sell.

Success would not be Kim Jong-un saying you've got to get those troops out of South Korea and the president saying, good idea, we will do that. That

would be a disaster.

AMANPOUR: You are very skeptical and a lot of people are. Rightly so. But is it also true the what Kim Jong-un said is kind of unprecedented,

freeze or halt ballistic missile, halt nuclear weapons tests and understand America's military exercises with South Korea. They've never really said

that before?

HILL: That is extraordinary what he apparently said to the South Koreans. If I were staffing this out, I'd want a lot of the debriefs of the South

Koreans. I would want a US team going to China, working out some kind of quiet US-North Korean discussions.

If the president is going to pull a rabbit out of a hat, we need some diplomats who before that time, busy stuffing that rabbit down the hat,

that's what diplomats do and presidents show the success of it.

So, we need some diplomatic effort here. And I think the idea that Donald Trump is going to rely on diplomats is just something new to him.

AMANPOUR: And there aren't anyway. I mean, there are, of course, but there is not - you're a former ambassador to South Korea, there is

currently no US ambassador to South Korea. Famously, the North Korean envoy for the State Department resigned, retired a couple of weeks ago.

The infrastructure, the normal diplomatic infrastructure is not in place for something so huge as this.

HILL: It is huge. Frankly, in a certain way, in terms of foreign policy, in terms of national security, he's betting his presidency on this. That

would put it in the huge category.

I would like to say, though, there are a lot of extremely talented people in the State Department who are still there, working every day, and I hope

the president notices that because he can't - this is not a one man sport. He needs a whole team and he needs to go to the State Department.

AMANPOUR: But he says that he has feelings, he works on his gut and he says that his gut - these tweeted insults and then the return insults, all

of that kind of stuff, the maximum pressure, the sanctions, that's what's done what no other US president has been able to do.

HILL: What I would like to see them do with him since he doesn't really want to read, he doesn't really want to listen is maybe have a kind of mock

meeting, get someone to dress up as Kim Jong-un. They can find someone with a haircut like that.

And then, Kim Jong-un says, hey, we'll do this if you get rid of all the troops in South Korea. The president goes, that's a good idea. Wrong.

Not a good idea. And try to prepare him through some kind of - the way they prepare candidates in this kind of debate.

AMANPOUR: There is one agenda which is to try to do something with North Korea. But at the same time, depending on your ally, South Korea, upon

whom you may be slapping steel tariffs. How does that work in the real world?

HILL: Well, it doesn't work in the real world. And somehow, as the president found a way to deal with Mexico and Canada and is finding -

AMANPOUR: By exempting them apparently.

HILL: And apparently finding a way to deal with some of the Europeans, he has got to do that on South Korea because when you go after these kinds of

things, you're going after citizens in South Korea who are going to be very aware of what's happening to their jobs and their government will be very

aware. So, I think there is an important need to try to get everyone marching in the same direction.

[15:10:13] AMANPOUR: I've asked you what success looks like. What would failure look like?

HILL: Failure would look like a situation where there is no second act. There is no indication of where we're going. It would look like something

like, I've had a good discussion with Mr. Kim and I'm sure we will arrive at something. That wouldn't do it.

Or we've agreed on a moratorium. and everyone will say, I thought we were talking about denuclearization. That also wouldn't do.

So, I'm looking for that key word of denuclearization and I want some notion of where we're going forward with that and a time frame.

When the North Koreans say, oh, we are willing to give up our nuclear weapons, that's when the lions lie down with the lambs and that sort of

situation. We need some concept of timing.

AMANPOUR: But how long? Years, months?

HILL: Oh, I think this would take a couple of years minimum and, ultimately, the final step is bringing in international teams and securing

those weapons. It's going to be a tall order.

But if there could be a sense that there is a process going forward with some kind of loose time frame, I think president - not quite ready to work

on his Nobel Peace Prize speech, but certainly that would be a step forward.

AMANPOUR: Legacy stuff.

HILL: Absolutely, given where we've been.

AMANPOUR: And just, finally, failure - could it also mean - as you said, there is no sort of second act, could failure mean - if you say there is no

second act - that the pendulum swings inevitably back to the military side?

HILL: Yes. I think that would be failure because we would not be able to have a common language with our partner there, with our ally there, the

South Koreans. And I think it would be extremely problematic if we got back into that sort of track.

So, this is a hugely important meeting. So much so, I guess, the South Korean president just recently said, I'd like to be there too, so maybe

we'd make this a three way. He understands the importance of it.

I have to give him a lot of credit. When he came in, a lot of people thought he'd be kind of turning away from the Americans. Quite to the

contrary, he's working closely with us.

AMANPOUR: And let's face it, Donald Trump has given him space for his diplomacy.

HILL: He has even made the South Koreans his spokesman on these issues. So, this is a tough one. This is a real tough one.

AMANPOUR: And yet, so unbelievably important and challenging. Chris Hill. Thank you so much, ambassador, for being here with us.

HILL: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Now, we turn to the cry of a generation of American students who've grown up amidst ongoing school shootings and they are saying enough

is enough.

This weekend, survivors of the deadly attack on the school in Parkland, Florida are preparing to take their fight for stricter gun control laws to


They will take part in the March for our Lives on Saturday, which is the culmination of an effort to honor the 17 students and faculty members, who

were killed at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School exactly a month ago. They want to protect themselves since they feel the adults have so

spectacularly failed.

Joining me now are two of those students who survived this shooting and are leading the movement for change. Cameron Kasky and Alex Wind are live with

me from Washington.

Both of you, welcome to the program.



AMANPOUR: So, just in a nutshell, tell us how you hope this March for our Lives builds on your activism over the last month and especially on the

mass walkout that was so impressive a couple weeks ago?

CAMERON KASKY, PARKLAND SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Well, the walkout was a great showing of how other students are seeking out the leadership

positions into which we were thrust and it was great to see that this generation is stepping up, asking questions and leading our peers.

But the march is only the beginning. The march is a visual representation of the fact that the American people are ready to not let our politicians

off the hook. We have our Demands. Their job is to represent us and they have to.

AMANPOUR: I had said culmination and you say this is just the beginning. So, that leads me into the next question, which is an obvious one because

so many people, and you know it so well, you too, when certain things happen in the political space or the social cultural space, often they tend

to fade away as people's attention gets turned to other things.

Alex, I mean, I can see that you too and your cohort don't feel that that's going to happen this time. You're not going to let it fade away.

ALEX WIND, PARKLAND SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Yes. We really don't think that we have the opportunity to allow it to fade away. In the end, this is

the most important issue in this country. Children are dying every day, and it's not just because of school violence, it's because of violence on

the streets, in the movie theaters, in churches, in night clubs.

[15:15:03] We see that with Pulse. We see that with Columbine. We see that in Sutherland Springs. We've seen it in Las Vegas. It just shows

that this issue needs to stay in the public light and we're going to show that come November, if it doesn't stay in the public light, we're going to

force it there.

KASKY: We've seen this all before.

AMANPOUR: Yes. I'm sorry, I don't mean to interrupt you.

KASKY: (INAUDIBLE) narrative. If this happens to us and people forget about it instantly and that's because they let their politicians get away

with not representing them. We aren't letting them do that.

AMANPOUR: Will you both be old enough to vote in November?

KASKY: Neither of us.

WIND: Unfortunately.

AMANPOUR: Neither of you, but you're going to try to rally as many as you can.

You said, Cameron, at the beginning, that you've been thrust into this position. And I sort of said and I picked up on something that your group

has said that the adults have failed, it's our turn, we have to do it.

How much pressure, Cameron, do you feel, and Alex, is on your shoulders? I mean, you're students after all? You've got to pass final exams and go to


KASKY: It's easy to feel a lot of pressure until you see things like the walkout where other students are supporting us. This isn't just us

anymore. At first, it was the Stoneman Douglas kids who spoke out, working together for this movement, but now we are part of something so much

greater than ourselves. And I think you're going to see that in even a greater volume at the March for our Lives this Saturday.

WIND: There are over 800 marches worldwide on this Saturday. So, it really shows that it's not just Stoneman Douglas. We are a unified front

with every student in the United States because every student in the United States has that fear that they're going to get shot in school and we're

here to say that fear can't happen anymore.

AMANPOUR: And you say worldwide. Well, obviously, this program goes all over the world on CNNI as well. And people around the world are really

transfixed by your activism, your struggle and they cannot understand it every time there is this kind of shooting in the United States.

So, take me back to when you first started. Obviously, in the immediate aftermath of the terrible shooting, you did something unprecedented. Got

on buses and actually walked the walk to your state capitol.

So, that first experience was not a happy or successful one, right? You didn't get and you didn't hear what you wanted to from the Tallahassee

state legislature.

KASKY: In the end, neither of us were there in Tallahassee, but all we know is from our friends. They told us that whoever they met with was very

helpful, they spoke to them, but the people they didn't meet with are the ones that we need to know about.

The people that they didn't meet with are the ones that us, as citizens, need to know that they're not representing their constituents well enough.

I was looking up to go to Washington DC and meet with fellow congressmen and senators as well. They're the ones that we need to know about. We

need to know which of our representatives are not doing their job and are not representing us.

WIND: It showed us what we were going to have to deal with. The fact that these people weren't meeting with us, the fact that they were trying to get

out of this is further proof that we have put the wrong people in office in many situations.

Those who work with us, those who have a conversation with us, those are the people that we need to put back in office and the politicians who are

running away, we need to make the message to them very clear that they cannot run away from their constituents being killed everywhere.

AMANPOUR: Well, I want to play - given what you've just said, you're confrontation - your respectful question frankly to your senator Marco

Rubio at the CNN Town Hall, which happened very soon after the shooting. Let's just take a look again.


KASKY: Sen. Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: So, number one, the positions I hold on these issues of the Second Amendment, I've held since the day I entered

office in the city of West Miami as an elected official.

Number two - no, the answer to that question is that people buy into my agenda and I do support the Second Amendment and I also support the right

of you and everyone here to be able to go to school and be safe. And I do support any law that would keep guns out of the hands of a deranged killer

and that's why I support the things that I've stood for.

KASKY: In the name of 17 people, you cannot ask the NRA to keep their money out of your campaign?

RUBIO: I think in the name of 17 people, I can pledge to you that I will support any law that will prevent a killer like this -

KASKY: No, but I'm talking about NRA money.


AMANPOUR: So, that was really raw, really raw. It happened right after the killing and you put him on the spot.

The NRA is really angry at what you are doing and trying to influence your lawmakers. But I wonder how difficult that is for you to confront?

KASKY: Well, it was difficult to face him because I was facing the person who got us into this mess. He is a representation of the fact that the

system we've been handed has failed us. He is corrupt. He is being given money by these lobbyists who care more about peddling weapons in our lives.

[15:20:07] I wasn't afraid, though, because Sen. Rubio and those like him, they work for us. We put them in office and their job, when they mess up,

is to listen to us, is to listen to our critiques and to let us ask them questions. That's why I appreciate that Sen. Rubio showed up.

Gov. Rick Scott didn't even bother. President Trump, not only did he not show up, he didn't even respond to the invitation. And we would have loved

to hear from him. When confronting somebody whose job it is to serve you comes along, it's a very simple thing, you say you failed, here's how you

can do better. And then, of course, they try to sidestep with all the things that Rubio said, but that's just because he is -

AMANPOUR: OK. Fast forward a little bit and you have actually the legislature in Florida, Republicans and Democrats, I think because - they

say anyway, because of the impact of what you have had on them in the intervening weeks, there was an attempt to actually pass at least some

different laws, right? I mean that did happen.

KASKY: It's not about the impact we have on them. It's about the impact we know that we're going to have on them come November because they know

that if they didn't do anything about this, in November, they all would have been out of there. However, what they did, still does not do nearly

enough to fix the issue. All it is a drop in a bucket.

AMANPOUR: Remind us again exactly what they did?

KASKY: Well, what they passed, mentioned background checks, it upped the age to 21 and they discussed guns and that was very important and that was

a great step for Florida.

The problem is, on a federal level, they have the Stop School Violence Act, which doesn't say the word gun once. And at the end of the day, these

school shootings, they aren't tied together by a specific mental disorder, they aren't tied together by anything but the weapon. That keeps


These aren't anomalies. There is something clear going on here and the people are seeing past the facade that there isn't.

WIND: Another issue is that the Stop School Violence Act doesn't say anything about movie theaters or churches or night clubs or concerts. This

does not just happen in school. If anything, it happens more on the streets of our country in cities like Chicago, Baltimore, Boston. Places

like those, they deal with his gun violence every day. Why are we not doing anything to help them?

AMANPOUR: I heard that you were asked, and you've been asked by some of the politicians, who you've met, I suppose, or who've contacted you to

support their cause. And you have told them no.

KASKY: We're not here to endorse anybody. We are here to endorse ideas. We're here to support ideas that our politicians may have crossed. If

there's a bill that makes any sense, we will support it, but we are not in the business of endorsing people because we can't do that. That's just

further proof that our system is a little messy in that case.

We will stand behind ideals and we will stand behind morals, but specific people, when you do that, you forget the other things they stand for. How

many elected officials is it that don't have an official position on gun control?

WIND: There over 200 representatives that still have not come out publicly to say this is my stance on gun control and gun reforms.

KASKY: It's ridiculous.

AMANPOUR: Well, you've got your work cut out for you in the intervening months ahead of the midterms and beyond. But I wonder, with everybody

wanting a piece of you now, I mean you're on the media, you're marching, you're active, you're still in school, you've got politicians after your

endorsement, you're still 18 years old. 17, I'm sorry. That's even younger. Have you been able to actually grieve? I mean, have you been

able to act as young people in the last month?

KASKY: Something, I'd like to do a lot is I'd like to go back to the school - especially during that time it was closed and I'd like to go and

sit outside the memorial and just look and see because I thought that the most powerful image was seeing those 17 crosses and stars shadowed in the

lights of the red and blue cops and shown by the glow of the candlelight being the only lights there with my school in the background.

KASKY: It doesn't feel real and it's easy to forget that it is, especially when we've been moving so much. We've been trying to mobilize. Because if

we didn't mobilize quickly enough, this would have just fallen into the two week narrative that it always did.

We had to thrust ourselves into this and put our own grieving aside, but it comes out - and sometimes it comes out at the wrong time. Sometimes, I

feel like everything is alright and then it's there. But we have had time, especially a little recently, to realize, wait, we are still the people we

were before February 14th and it's important to remember that and it's important to remember those we've lost, but also not let their loss slow us

down. Only let it be our inspiration to keep moving for them.

AMANPOUR: You know what? Just grieves me, I don't even want to ask you this question, but, I mean, even this week, there was another shooting in

the shadow of what you're going through, what happened, the immense international and national awareness about this. Even this week. That's

17, this year.

[15:25:14] KASKY: Yes. And it is - until we do something, that's not the end. And that's why we're taking these steps and mobilizing and we are

expecting to see these slow down once our politicians step in the right direction and start addressing guns, which are quite clearly what started


AMANPOUR: And, finally, I guess, soon you'll be thinking about going to college and maybe you've had your ideas of what you wanted to do. Has this

changed, altered what you think you might want to do with your lives once you leave high school?

WIND: The thing is is that this came to us. This affected us. None of us -- neither of us asked for this. We had always been passionate about this

issue, but we were thrust into this position of activists now.

And now that we're activists, right now, that's the only thing on our minds right now.

KASKY: Yes. And this has made us look differently at the future because the future looks brighter now than it ever has. Before all these changes

have been made and before everybody started moving the way they have, I looked at the future and I was incredibly pessimistic.

But, now, I look 10 years from now, I'm excited. I'm excited to see what's going to be happening. I'm excited for the state of Western politics at

the time.

I don't know what we're going to be doing with our futures, but all I know is that Alex and I both will not be happy unless we are doing something to

positively affect people around us.

AMANPOUR: Amazing to listen to you. Cameron, Alex, thank you so much. And good luck to you.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast at any time, see us online at and follow me on

Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.