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CIA director secretly met North Korean leader; David Cameron on new state fragility report. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired April 18, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, laying the groundwork, President Trump's pick for secretary of state meets North Korea's leader to
discuss denuclearization, the highest-level contact between the two sides in almost 20 years. And I speak to a former US diplomat who was at those
first talks, Wendy Sherman.
Plus, he called for the referendum that took Britain out of the EU and once lost a parliamentary vote to launch strikes on Syria. My conversation with
the former British Prime Minister David Cameron on the state of our world today.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Few Americans have ever set foot in North Korea, let alone met its leader. Now, we know CIA director Mike Pompeo has done just that, making him the
highest-ranking US official ever to sit face to face with Kim Jong-un.
Pompeo, who is President Trump's pick for secretary of state, traveled there over Easter almost three weeks ago to lay the groundwork for a
possible upcoming summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump.
Trump, this morning, said the meeting went smoothly and a good relationship was formed. But in Mar-a-Lago, Florida yesterday, alongside Japan's Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump added caveats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have not picked the site yet, but we've picked five sites where it's potentially going to be. We'll
let you know fairly soon and let's see what happens.
We'll either have a very good meeting or we won't have a good meeting. And maybe we won't even have a meeting at all depending on what's going in.
But I think that there's a great chance to solve a world problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, up to now, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright was the highest level US official to hold such a meeting. Then it was Kim
Jong-Il, father of the current leader.
And here's what she told me recently about possible traps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADELINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I think it's a question of definition because people are pleased that Kim Jong-un has said he wants to
talk about denuclearization.
The question is what he means and what we mean by it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And that is the all-important question. Former Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman was in North Korea with Madeline Albright and you
can see her there behind Kim Jong-Il and she joins me now from Washington.
Wendy Sherman, welcome to the program.
WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you. Good to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, that is really the question. We do hear President Trump tweeting a lot about this word, denuclearization. We've heard Kim Jong-un
say he's prepared to talk about it.
But as Secretary Albright said, perhaps, it means different things to each side. What do you think?
SHERMAN: Well, it's very interesting, Christiane. Jeffrey Lewis who is a noted expert at the Middleberry Institute in Monterey did an op-ed a few
days ago in "The New York Times" to explain to people the history of that word denuclearization.
It's not what people think it is. It's not about disarmament. It's not about nonproliferation. It was created in 1992 in a North-South joint
declaration to talk about all things nuclear.
The year before, in 1991, then-President George Bush wanted to make a decision about whether to take the only nuclear weapons on the Korean
Peninsula, American nuclear weapons, off the peninsula in hopes that that would encourage the North not to start down that road and keep the South
from starting down that road.
He did remove our weapons. We got this joint declaration. The joint declaration used the term denuclearization, which was decidedly and
purposely vague, but it includes not only weapons, but the security - the nuclear security umbrella that we provide in the region, it includes our
permissibility of having nuclear weapons anywhere, it means quite a different thing than I think the president of the United States believes it
And I don't think for one moment at least at this point that Kim Jong-un expects to destroy his nuclear weapons. I think he's looking for a very
different kind of denuclearization.
AMANPOUR: Well, gosh. What does that mean then for an American president about to hold an unprecedented summit?
I mean, let's face it. The whole of the Western alliance in South Korea use that word. They want a summit, a meeting to be about - I don't know -
disarming, the word that's not included in this situation.
SHERMAN: Agreed. And I hope that when Mr. Pompeo went and had his meeting, they got beyond the phrase that's used all the time, which is a
comprehensible, irreversible, verifiable denuclearization to really get down to definitions of what that means.
[14:05:12] Does that mean all of his weapons get destroyed? Does that mean they're just inspected and kept under lock and key? What does it mean and
what does he want in return?
In the past, he's wanted in return the end of any US military in the region. It's meant he wants no exercises between the US and South Korea.
It means that he wants a peace treaty, which looks like it's going to be on the table in the North-South summit that comes up before the president's
meeting. So, there a lot of pieces to this puzzle and they're all very, very difficult.
AMANPOUR: So, those issues that you just brought up, the things that Kim Jong-un might want, are they even starters or are they non-starters?
SHERMAN: Well, I would suspect that at least at the start of this negotiation, they are non-starters because one of my concerns about how
this is proceeding is that it appears that we're putting things on the table - we and the South Koreans - without getting anything in return.
So, what may happen here is that South Korea has a summit. They put out a statement that is high principles because they know that the real
negotiation is between the United States and North Korea because the North sees the United States as the only country that can threaten its regime
with military force.
And so, we get this nice statement that's supposed to be filled out by President Trump and by the Americans. I hope in consultation with the
Japanese as well. I think Prime Minister Abe put on quite a game face in a very difficult situation in Mar-a-Lago and that we get down to the details
of what all these definitions are, what is possible.
A peace treaty means what? What are these countries? What rights do they? We don't want to throw South Korea or Japan under the bus to protect our
security. We are all in this together.
AMANPOUR: Wendy Sherman, I assume, was making sure with President Trump that Japan wouldn't be thrown under the bus and Japan's interest wouldn't
be ignored in any US deal with North Korea, if there was to be such a thing.
But he did also say, and he praised President Trump's maximum pressure strategy for bringing the situation to this point. In other words, sort of
off the boil.
Remember, a few months ago, everybody thought it was going to be war between the two countries and President Trump, who does like a bit of
praise, said the following.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: South Korea is meeting and has plans to meet with North Korea to see if they can end the war and they have my blessing on that.
And they've been very generous that without us, and without me in particular, I guess, you would have to say that, or they wouldn't be
discussing anything, including the Olympics. It would've been a failure. Instead it was a great success. They would've had a real problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, it's sort of typical. But, nonetheless, these meetings are happening. Just from Kim Jong-un's perspective, when he looks
at the world and the word disarmament, he sees Saddam Hussein and he sees Saddam Hussein out. He sees Muamar Gaddafi who gave up his weapons of mass
destruction program. Out.
He clearly can see that it's not the best bet in this environment to give up nuclear weapons. He's right, right? I mean, he needs also some
SHERMAN: Yes. This is a very rational box that he is sitting in and he is actually in the driver's seat at the moment because everybody wants him to
do a variety of things and he has nothing else to worry about in the world, except these summits and these negotiations, while the presidents and prime
ministers of the other countries have many things on their plate that they have to deal with. So, he will be extremely well-prepared, extremely on
top of his game.
And, yes, he wants to make sure his regime is secure. So, part of that original definition that we were talking about, denuclearization, what does
that mean, what are we trying to achieve, what is he trying to achieve. He wants regime security. And he'll have some very particular things that he
will want reassurances about.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, the chatter sphere was consumed by Director Pompeo's secret trip to North Korea. I mean, it's amazing that it stayed
secret for three weeks. But in any event, clearly, that was the right thing to do. I mean, the president had to send an emissary to prepare the
SHERMAN: Indeed. And he knew at the time that the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was about to be out the door.
And we know that there is a channel between the intelligence communities for two reasons. One, the South Koreans sent their head of intelligence as
part of their opening to the summit, which was the conduit back to the United States. so, I'm sure he was talking to Mr. Pompeo at the CIA.
[14:10:15] And in the Obama administration, we saw James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, going to North Korea to get out an
American hostage. So, clearly, there was an intelligence channel of some sort that was working.
And I will be curious to find out whether Mr. Pompeo raised the fate of the three Americans who are currently being held in North Korea because,
while we're looking at everything else, we have a responsibility and obligation to get those Americans home.
AMANPOUR: So, obviously, we know sort of what a success would look like. I spoke to one of your successor negotiators, Chris Hill, about what a
failure of such a summit would look like. These are the points he made.
Oops, there's no sound. OK.
But, basically, what he said was failure would look 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 that we've achieved a moratorium on existing testing of either weapons, warheads or missiles. That wouldn't do it either.
So, there has to be a bar, doesn't there, to be able to declare such a meeting a success?
SHERMAN: Right. I think what's important here is that the president is not likely to, in one meeting, to say the least, negotiate a full-blown
The Iran Nuclear Deal, which I was involved is 110 pages long, took years to make happen and is quite technical and detailed because verification and
monitoring are very critical elements in enforcement of any agreement and there will be details that are important to Kim Jong-un as well.
So, you can't get this done in a meeting. The only thing you can get done is probably a set of principled commitments and teams with a timetable to
begin the detailed negotiations.
And I hope that the president keeps the expectations considerably low about what this is and doesn't think this is a photo opportunity he can claim
success, mission accomplished as he just did in a way that makes no sense regarding Syria and does the same thing here with one photo opportunity
with the North Korean leader, giving the North Korean leader legitimacy he has not yet earned.
AMANPOUR: Wendy Sherman, thanks so much. And, of course, you mentioned the Iran Nuclear Deal. President Trump has a date in May to decide whether
to keep the US in it or not and that will have a big impact on the North Korea talks.
So, turning now to one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. That is fragile states. My next guest, the former British Prime Minister
David Cameron, has been focusing a lot of his time on this issue since his own political career was brought to a dramatic end after the Brexit vote in
2016 when the UK voted to leave the EU. He called that referendum.
He has become chairman of the New Commission on State Fragility, Growth and Development, which is unveiling some controversial remedies in Washington
And he recently testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about changing the whole premise of a fragile nation. And I sat down with
Cameron earlier this week before he took off for Washington and we talked all about this as well as about those strikes in Syria and how Brexit will
define his legacy.
Prime Minister Cameron, welcome.
DAVID CAMERON, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: Great to be here.
AMANPOUR: So, can you just define for us fragility? What is fragile for the purposes of your report?
CAMERON: A fragile state is one that has been wracked by conflict, affected by corruption, one that is not really capable of delivering the
basic services like health and education that its people needs. It's often got a very divided society.
And as well as, obviously, leaving people trapped in poverty for generation after generation, these fragile states have a huge effect on the rest of
the world. They can be the source of problems. Mass migration. Sometimes terrorist training camps. Centers for people trafficking. Centers of real
problem in our world and one that in many ways is getting worse and that's what this report that I've been chairing for the last year has been looking
AMANPOUR: Some might find controversial points in it because you are not arguing just to keep giving aid and some say throwing good money after bad.
And nor are you arguing just to make a transactional relationship with countries.
For instance, one of the points you say is about elections and it's not necessarily the greatest thing to immediately have democratic elections
after a civil war. Tell us why not.
CAMERON: First of all, on the aid point, I'm an enormous supporter of aid. As prime minister of Britain, it was the first G-7 country to achieve 0.7
percent of our gross national income going in aid.
That was a promise we made to the poorest people in the world, the poorest countries in the world. I'm proud we kept that promise and it's paid for
vaccinating millions of children against diseases we wouldn't dream of our own children dying of it. Educated children's. It's helped to rebuild
countries. It's made our world safer. It's lifted millions of people out of poverty.
[14:15:13] I'm not saying we should stop giving aid to fragile states. Our report is saying we want to do it in a different way.
Now, one of the things we do first with these very fragile countries is we completely overload them with priorities and we need to strip that back and
say, actually, the most important things are basic security and basic economics. Am I safe in my bed at night and can I put a meal the table for
my family in the morning?
Now, what we are saying about elections is controversial. We are saying we are in favor of elections. We are in favor of democracy, but don't rush to
the multi-party election in some of these very fragile, very conflict- affected states.
What you need to do is make sure there is genuine peace, genuine security, make sure there is proper arrangements for power sharing. If you go
straight to the election, you may find you get one person, one vote, but it might be one person one vote once. And one of the parties to the conflict
wins the election and then really overrides the system and you don't get the genuine democracy.
So, one of the points in our report is the building blocks of democracy - the rule of law, checks and balances, making sure no one becomes over-
powerful, some of those basic freedoms, those building blocks are actually, in many cases, more important than the actual act of holding an election.
We are not anti-elections. We just say let's try and sort out the internal dynamics of these countries first.
AMANPOUR: I mean just sum it up. Perhaps because, as you say, after a civil war, the powerful are left standing, sort of the militias, the
warlords and they snap often. And if they get power immediately in a democratic election, then it's not quite the free and fair political -
CAMERON: That's right. You may end up - I mean, arguably, this happened in Iraq with a Shia-dominated government. Instead what you want you want
to try and do with these countries, it's easy to say, it's much more difficult to do it, what you've got to try and do is make sure you've got
proper arrangements for power sharing. Are you going to have an Iraq that will work for Shia, Sunni and Kurd and Christian? Are you're going to have
a Rwanda that will look after both Hutus and Tutsis?
It's trying to make sure there are checks and balances, there are ways of power sharing that are working. So, sometimes it might be better, our
report finds, to have a provisional government that can fix some of these things first, make sure you put those building blocks of the democracy in
place and then go to the multiparty elections.
AMANPOUR: And you said - just to follow up on we're not going to come in with a whole list of priorities. I mean, one of the problem, people say,
is the West comes in and says we want this, we want this, we want to make you in our image.
What do you want? You can't just give them the aid. I mean, they must at least be able to govern and stamp out corruption.
CAMERON: First, we've got to be realistic. Sometimes we look at a country like Somalia, deeply broken and conflict affected and problems with
terrorism and migration and all the rest of it.
The international community almost says, right, we've got this great plan to turn you into Denmark, this model of democracy in a very short period of
time. It's totally unrealistic.
So, strip back the priorities, but most important of all, make sure they are the countries' priorities because, in the end, fragile states only
become unfragile when they have capable governments, when they have legitimate institutions and crucially when the people in those countries
look to those governments and institutions and say, yes, they are mine, I'm prepared to take orders from them, I'm prepared to obey them, I'm prepared
to work with this country.
So, it's very important that the priorities set are set by the countries and the governments themselves. Sometimes in the past, we've always
undermined the governments or the institutions of these countries all out of good intentions, but we need to change the way we do things.
And that's why this report is quite radical. We are saying instead of telling you here is the money, here are the policies you must pursue, we're
saying, no, no, let's scrap that. It's your plan, your priorities, we will help you, we will fund it, but - and it's a big but - governance
conditionality. If you waste the money, if you steal the money, if you can't show how the money has been spent, if there isn't proper audit,
proper governance, we won't give anymore.
That's a very big change and I think it's a very important change that our report suggests.
AMANPOUR: You mentioned the report. The report actually has quite some startling figures.
CAMERON: Well, the big figure, what the world has agreed is to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. Those were the millennium development goals. I'm
proud to have played a role in helping to put those together.
But, of course, we won't meet those goals unless we deal with the fragile states because some of these countries, Democratic Republic of Congo,
Burundi, Iberia, some of these countries are actually poorer than they were 40 or 50 years ago.
[14:20:03] And so, there is no prospect of tackling extreme poverty unless we tackle state fragility. And the truth about our world today is that,
actually, India and China, with their growth and development, are lifting their own poor out of poverty.
And by 2030, we'll find half of the world's poor will be in these fragile states. They'll be in the DRCs, the Burundies, the Somalias, the South
Sudans, the Yemens, countries which are badly fractured.
So, what we're arguing for is very difficult because it's much easier to vaccinate a child or to build a school. It's not easy, but it's relatively
straightforward compared with building on its tax authorities, on its governments and tackling corruption, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
AMANPOUR: Right. But the obvious question is, are all these governments, which are feeling besieged today, whether it's by immigration or refugees
or any number of populist politics, the economy, are they going to do it? Are they going to have the political will?
CAMERON: I think if we say to them, we're going to stop piling up priorities on to you, we're going to stop telling you what to do and how to
do it, we want you to come up with a plan to bring your nation together, to bring disputed parties together, to develop your country and we will back
I think that is a far better prospect of long-term success. And this applies not just to donor governments and DFID and USAID. It also applies
to the IMF and the World Bank and these big institutions. Sometimes, they treat fragile states the same as they treat other countries.
If you take the IMF, it's pointless saying to the poorest country in the world, you've got to have the same sort of program and the same sort of
goals as some of the richest countries in the world.
I'm the biggest enthusiast for getting rid of deficits and dealing with debt, but when you're dealing with a totally broken country, you've got to
start with, are there roads to get your goods to market? Are there ports where you can export your produce? Do you have electricity and energy for
your people to be able to a start and run businesses? You got to get some of the basics in place rather than these annual programs.
AMANPOUR: And talking about broken countries, Syria is obviously very, very broken. You were prime minister famously in 2013 when a similar
situation came up, using chemical weapons and should the world respond or not.
You wanted to. You took it to parliament and they said no to you. How much of a mistake was that? And do you agree with what the British prime
minister did this time not taking it to Parliament and striking Assad's chemical weapons?
CAMERON: Well, I back what Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron and President Trump have done. I think the use of chemical weapons is absolutely
abhorrent. We cannot allow it to become normalized in our world and it's sort of the battlefield picture. And I think what they've done is right.
I deeply regret that parliament didn't vote for similar action in 2013. I think I know why. A lot of people were so unhappy about what had happened
in Iraq and they were so bruised by that.
I remember talking to MP after MP who said I quite support what you're proposing with respect to Syria, but I'm so bruised by the experience with
Iraq, I can't vote for it. And that was a huge problem.
So, I think she's done the right thing. This is not about regime change in Syria, although God knows we need it. It's not about intervening in the
civil war. It is about making a point that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about Brexit. Let me quote. Peter Mandelson said that history will remember David Cameron simply as the prime minister
who took us out of the EU. I don't think there will be anything else. The man who took this tactical risk, which then turned into a strategic
And then you yourself were caught on an open mic in Davos, basically saying that this was a mistake, Brexit, but not a disaster. It's turned out less
badly than we first thought.
And I don't know whether you're willing to put a value judgment on Brexit, but I want to ask you personally what you feel about your political
obituary, if you like, this being the first line of it.
CAMERON: Well, obviously, people will make the judgment about my 11 years leading the Conservative Party and six years leading the country. I hope
people will look at the fact that, when I became prime minister, we had one of the biggest budget deficits in the world and we reduced that radically.
We created over 2 million jobs, a million new businesses. We became the fastest growing country in the G7. There was an economic record and there
are some other things I'm very proud of. Actually, being the first G7 country to keep its promise to the poorest countries and the poorest people
in the world, I think, is something to be proud of.
Obviously, Brexit is a huge event in our country's history. I don't regret holding a referendum. I think it was the right thing to do. I don't think
you can belong to these organizations and see their powers grow in treaty after treaty and power after power going from Westminster to Brussels and
never asking the people whether they're happy governed in that way.
But I haven't changed my mind about the results of the referendum. I wish the vote had gone another way. I think we've taken the wrong course.
[14:25:00] But to be frank, Britain is the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world. It is a legitimate choice to try and be a friend and a
neighbor and a partner of the European Union rather than a member of the European Union and that's what the country has chosen.
I accept the result. I wish my successor well in the work that she's doing.
I know as being prime minister, it is a hard enough job without your predecessor giving a running commentary and that's why I haven't been
giving interviews and the rest of it.
AMANPOUR: But just personally, all the things that you've just said to me about the successes that you've done, the changes and the transformations,
are you worried that this will be what people remember you for?
CAMERON: Well, I think people will make up their own minds.
I, obviously, believe that I was right to hold the referendum. I made a promise to the British people. I kept that promise.
The point I would make is that people say it was all about politics. And, of course, there was always politics involved in these decisions, but there
was also, I believe, quite fundamental problem that Britain had and Britain was seeing with the development of the single currency and the beginning of
decisions being made about us without us and we needed to fix our position.
I wanted to fix it inside the European Union. The British public chose that we would fix it from outside the European Union. And I wish my
successor well with her work in being what I hope will be a good and friendly and close neighbor to the European Union rather than as we were.
Perhaps, we were a slightly reluctant and sometimes unhappy tenant.
AMANPOUR: David Cameron, thank you very much. We hope to continue that conversation when you've written your book. Thank you very much.
And about those Syria strike, of course, it was because the British parliament rebuffed David Cameron's call for action in Syria in 2013 that,
in large part, President Obama decided against going to Congress and, therefore, against enforcing his own red line on Syria's use of chemical
And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at Amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.