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Sweden's crucial role in North Korean negotiations; Confronting racial terror in America. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 25, 2018 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, as the United States and North Korea prepare to set sail into uncharted waters, Sweden has long been

laying the groundwork. Foreign minister Margot Wallstrom joins me as years of tough diplomacy come to a head.

And America opens its first memorial to more than 4,000 lynching victims. Equal Justice activist Bryan Stevenson confronts America's history of

racial terror as a prelude to healing.

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

On the Korean Peninsula, right now, preparations are underway for the making of modern history itself. On Friday, Kim Jong-un will become the

first North Korean leader to cross the border into the South for an unprecedented meeting with the republic's President Moon Jae-in.

Rehearsals have been taking place throughout the day and officials from both countries met on the northern side earlier this week.

These nations share a unique heritage, but recent history has seen their identities polarized and their families divided.

Yet, there is also another side to the story, one nestled thousands of miles away in Sweden. Unbeknownst to most, Stockholm has for decades been

the diplomatic channel mediating relations between Washington and Pyongyang.

And in the past few years, one woman has led that charge. She is the Swedish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Margot Wallstrom and she

joins me from New York.

Foreign Minister Wallstrom, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, you're in mid-meetings about all sorts of world affairs, the flags are blowing in the wind behind you. So, let me use that metaphor,

where do you think the wind is blowing regarding the North Koreans with the South Koreans and eventually with PRESIDENT TRUMP? Where is that going to

lead to?

WALLSTROM: Well, I consider this a risky opportunity. The fact that there will be summits, meeting between the two because, normally, you would

prepare such a process during a long time and then a summit would be sort of the end of such a process and, hopefully, with a very good result that

has been guaranteed through the negotiations.

This is a kind of the reverse. So, I think it can be risky, but also a groundbreaking result, of course, and let's hope for the best.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me ask you then to outline the risks and then the opportunity. Why is it worth taking this risk and what specifically are

the risks?

WALLSTROM: Because, remember, North Korea right now is sort of the symbol of a number of things - the geopolitical tensions and everything difficult

in this part of the world, but also the threats that come from testing bombs and missiles and using nuclear weapons.

And then, also historical grievances as well.

And all of that into a mixture that makes up a very, very dangerous situation for not only that part of the world, but for the rest of the

world as well.

AMANPOUR: What is the best one can hope for?

WALLSTROM: Well, I think that nice words that we've heard until now must be turned into deeds. So, we must see a proper plan for denuclearization

and we must see that there is, hopefully, also some kind of bigger plan, I would say, on security arrangements for this part of the world.

It will be well prepared, of course, with the talks that will take place this Friday between North and South Korea. So, I think that's a good


AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, you said denuclearization. Others have used the word disarmament and there is a very big discussion as to whether the

West and the North Koreans are on the same page when it comes to the objectives.

So, since you have been the conduit between North Korea and the United States for years now, what have they told you? You've recently met with

the North Korean foreign minister.

[14:05:02] WALLSTROM: I think the that the situation is like this. To the North Koreans, this is an ideal situation to open up for talks because they

consider themselves fully equipped a sort of nuclear state.

And then, they also, of course, feel the pressure from the rest of the world, including the sanctions regime, and that's why they feel that now is

the time to enter into discussions with both the South, but also with the US and the rest of the world.

AMANPOUR: So, there are many, including Australia and Japan, but there are many others including inside the United States, inside the Trump

administration, who believes that it's possible that North Korea could be laying a trap, that it could be saying all the right things, but has no

intention of actually disarming and wants to be taken as a nuclear power and have a detente with the West, come up with some kind of containment or

deterrence regime and at the same time have the sanctions removed. Are you worried about that being the case from the North Koreans perspective?

WALLSTROM: Well, as I said, I think that this - the test of all of this lies in how willing they are to really do what they have said that they

wanted to do.

So, it's all in a plan that must be worked out in all its details. And this is where I think the rest of the world also has to engage and to make

sure that we have control regimes and that we can supervise any process from now on.

So, I think this has to be done very carefully. And normally, a process or a summit would be the end of such a long process in preparing, but now

maybe the summit will come first and then will everyone have to do all the work. Therefore, I call it a risky opportunity.

AMANPOUR: Yes. And it is very, very unusual. All the rhetoric around this issue and, as you say, the summit. When I spoke to you last, it was

at the United Nations, the big meeting in September. And you said to me, at the time, I don't think that a war of words will deescalate the crisis,

remembering that President Trump really let fly at North Korea from the podium in the building that you're in right now.

So, I just want to play you these contrasting words from President Trump over the last seven months.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury

like the world has never seen.

There is a bright path available to North Korea when it achieves denuclearization in a complete and verifiable and irreversible way. It

would be a great day for them. It would be a great day for the world.


AMANPOUR: So, do you think in a weird kind of way that this hyper, hyper sort of tension that we all felt over the last several months has led to

this? Or what do you think has led to this, at least beginning of a diplomatic opening?

WALLSTROM: A number of things that have led to this situation. The engagement of the Security Council, the decisions by the Security Council

and also, for example, the European Union introducing tougher and tougher sanctions, so that means that today we have the toughest of all sanctions

regimes against North Korea.

The interest of the rest of the world, the debate that has been taking place, the measures that have been taken by South Korea to stretch out a

hand and also realize the risks of if this escalates into the use of nuclear weapons, nobody wants that.

So, we have all come to realize that there is no such solution to this problem. So, I think, of course, the North Koreans consider themselves in

the best of situations where they feel militarily strong, but at the same time they know that they're economically weak and that this cannot last and

they need a solution.

And then, the political will and leadership by, for example, South Korea wanting to engage in finding small steps forward to increase confidence and

do confidence building, but also having a very practical way forward.

AMANPOUR: I want to talk about feminism and the way you put women's rights at the heart of Sweden's foreign policy.

WALLSTROM: Well, I think they have to realize, both men and women, that the gender equality is not a women's issue. It is a peace and security

issue. If you want a long-lasting peace, then you have to involve half of the population.

[14:10:00] And I think that we have tried to show how it can be done. We tried to, every time in the Security Council, ask the question, where are

the women? Are they around the table where peace negotiations are being negotiated or signed? Are they there as peacekeepers? Are they there as

decision makers?

AMANPOUR: You have been somewhat criticized by some people in the past by putting these moral objections to gender inequality at the forefront of

your foreign policy.

Some have said you jeopardize Sweden's trade or other bilateral issues. And particularly, in 2015, when you criticized Saudi Arabia's gender

policy, Riyadh recalled its ambassador.

So, I wonder whether you think they are on the road to correcting, to self correction with the new crown prince and his, for instance, lifting the ban

on women driving and implementing or about to implement some more female- friendly policies.

WALLSTROM: We welcome every change that will show that countries around the world see this as a universal human right, that women enjoy the same

rights as men.

And I think it is important that also small steps are taken to demonstrate that this is the direction because women will also fight for their rights

in Saudi Arabia and in many other countries where they are not as advanced or have come as far as we've done in my home country.

But it is not moralism. I really think it is about these very practical tools and instruments that checks on the discrimination against women, that

allows them to enjoy the same rights as men, but also make sure that they can have a say and that also budgetary means goes to women and girls' needs

as they do to men and boys.

AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, thank you so much for joining us from the UN.

WALLSTROM: Thank you. Thank you very much. All the best.

AMANPOUR: So many issues where so many world leaders have to really grapple with historical injustices and challenges for the future.

And in the United States, that revolves around the history of lynching. There are more than 700 memorials to the Confederate cause across the

country, but there's never been one to more than 4,000 lynchings, those black victims of vigilante mob killings.

Until this week, of course. My guest Bryan Stevenson is taking a major step towards righting a historic imbalance. He is the visionary force

behind two major new institutions that wrestle with America's history of racism and they're about to open in Montgomery, Alabama.

The first is the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and it's dedicated to the thousands of men, women and children, who were victims of anti-black


The second called the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration stands on the site of a warehouse where enslaved blacks were


Together, they connect the arc of America's racial history from slavery to Jim Crow to the arrest of two innocent black men in a Philadelphia

Starbucks this month.

Bryan Stevenson is founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and he joins me from Montgomery, Alabama. Bryan Stevenson,

welcome back to the program.


AMANPOUR: You have done more than many, many people to keep memory alive and to keep history alive, so that justice perhaps can be served. You have

not one, but two, incredible memorials. Well, one is a memorial. The other is a legacy museum opening. How hard was it to get to this point?

What are you trying to say?

STEVENSON: Well, it has been really, really challenging, but I'm incredibly excited and really proud to be creating the spaces.

After the emancipation of millions of black people who were enslaved in the United States, enslaved black people - formerly enslaved black people were

subjected to decades of terrorism and violence through lynching.

And the brutality of that era has really never been acknowledged. We've been silent about it for too long. And our silence, I think, has made the

continuation of racial inequality and bigotry a problem that we still deal with today.

So, my motivation is to create a new record, to create a new landscape. In the American south, the landscape is littered with the iconography of the

Confederacy. We love talking about mid-19th century history, but we don't talk about slavery. We don't talk about lynching.

And I'm hoping that these spaces will push us to be more honest in confronting our past and addressing the brutal history of racial inequality

that we've all inherited here in the United States.

[14:15:02] AMANPOUR: Well, to that end, I just want to read you because I talked about memory. Elie Wiesel, the great Nobel Laureate, the late Nobel

Laureate, says without memory, our existence would be barren and opaque, like a prison cell into which no light penetrates. If anything can, it is

memory that will save humanity.

So, that's what he said. But you've pointed out that most people can't even name a lynching victim. And I think, in the period that you're

looking at, I think it's 1877 to 1950 as a period of about sort of 80 years, more than 4,000 Americans were lynched - men women and children.

STEVENSON: That's right. And it was terrorism. We cannot describe this violence as murder or even as hate crimes. It was terrorism. Black people

were pulled out of their homes. They were drowned. They were burned alive. They were beaten to death. They were hanged.

Sometimes on the lawn in the public square, in front of courthouses, thousands of people would come and celebrate this spectacle of violence and

brutality. And we haven't talked about it. And it did something devastating to this nation.

The demographic geography of America was shaped during this era where 6 million black people fled the American south and that's how we have these

large minority populations in Cleveland and Chicago and Detroit and Los Angeles and Oakland because black people fled to those communities not as

immigrants, but as refugees and exiles from terror.

And because we haven't addressed this, I think we continue to struggle.

AMANPOUR: Describe the sort of imagery of the memorial you've chosen. I think most people, myself included, believe that lynching was pure and

simple hanging. But lynching was many other forms as well.

STEVENSON: That's right. And it's important that people who come to our memorial have context. And so, when you enter the memorial, the first

thing you see is something that most people have never seen in America, which is a sculpture on slavery.

You'll see human figures in chains, in bondage and the optic of enslavement in this brutal form is something that we've not done a very good job of.

We don't have an optic that accurately characterizes what happened to black people when they came to this country.

And you make that path, you take that journey and then you enter what we call the Memorial Square and you'll begin to see these 6-foot COR-TEN steel

monuments with the names of counties and people who were lynched because it's important for people to understand that this was the kind of violence

that wasn't hidden, it wasn't pushed to the side. It was actually lifted up to further torment and taunt and terrorize people of color.

And you can't appreciate how horrifying and terrifying this violence was until you begin to see these monuments rise. And, ultimately, you are

shadowed, you are haunted by these structures that represent all of the lives that were taken and then we tell stories.

AMANPOUR: Has anybody claimed their monument yet?

STEVENSON: Well, it's interesting. We open this week. We've already heard from two dozen communities, of faith people, schools and

universities, even some government officials, who are interested in claiming their monuments.

And so, I'm very hopeful that this will happen and, over time, our memorial will be a sort of report card on which communities in America have

acknowledged their history, have committed to this process of truth and recovery.

When I go to the Holocaust Museum, Christiane, I go through it, I'm moved by it. And at the end of it, I'm prepared to say never again. And we

haven't created spaces in this country that compel people to commit to never again, never again tolerating enslavement and lynching and

segregation and racial inequality.

And because of that, I think we're still burdened by that history. Black and brown people are presumed dangerous and guilty in our criminal justice

system by the police in spaces that are unfairly condemning them. And that legacy has to be confronted. And I hope these sites inspire them.

AMANPOUR: Talking about the history and the monuments, obviously, this comes at a time when there's an almighty row over monument in the South.

And you have specifically either not asked, or she's not coming, is the governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey.

And I want to just play for you something that she said about these monuments that you're talking about.


KAY IVEY, GOVERNOR OF ALABAMA: When special interest wanted to tear down our historical monuments, I said no and signed a law to protect them.

We can't change our race, our history. But here in Alabama, we know something Washington doesn't. To get where we're going means understanding

where we've been.


AMANPOUR: So, Bryan, Governor Ivey is taking the exact opposite view that you've just described Germany took in the post-Nazi era.

[14:20:00] STEVENSON: Yes. I mean, first of all, we're inviting everyone to come and see our monuments and memorials, and the governor among many

other elected officials is more than welcome.

We had had a lot of elected officials say I'm going to be there. I just think the iconography that we've created in the American South is

dishonest. It's a distortion of history.

It's not actually designed to help people understand who we are and what we've done. It's actually designed to help people forget some things.

And in the 19th century, we brought hundreds of thousands of enslaved people. We brutalized them. We treated them badly. And we haven't

acknowledged that.

The two largest high schools in Montgomery, Alabama are Robert E. Lee High and Jefferson Davis High. And a lot of people think that these Confederate

monuments were erected at the turn-of-the-century in the 19th century.

The statue of Robert E. Lee in front of Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery, Alabama was erected in 1955 as a symbol of resistance to racial

integration in public schools. It was designed to signify this idea that segregation forever is the mindset and we haven't talked about that. And

you can't look at that monument and understand the purpose of it.

And because of that, we have to change the landscape. I don't think anybody would support a country putting up a statue to Osama bin Laden.

We'd be outraged by that. Hitler statutes would be unconscionable.

And yet, we haven't confronted what these statutes represent and how they make people of color feel.

AMANPOUR: So, as we talked about the governor, she actually even went so far as creating - well, Monday was a state holiday in Alabama and is the

official observance of Confederate Memorial Day.

But over in Louisiana, Mayor Mitch Landrieu spoke to us recently about and took the opposite view. This is what he's saying, which goes really to the

heart of what you're saying. Let me play that.


MITCH LANDRIEU, MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: Slavery, it should not be hard for us to say in the second decade of the 21st century, was one of our nation's

great original sins that has affected us through today.

And to have statues up that are - basically were put up as political messages to tell African-Americans that they were not welcome here is not

something that's consistent with the history of New Orleans or who we have ever been.


AMANPOUR: So, Bryan, in the bottom of your heart, despite all that you are doing to create a different narrative, what do you feel? How do you keep

your passion and your motivation when you see reports in the United States that say even if a young black boy is raised in a very upper-middle-class,

wealthy home, he's going to face discrimination the minute he finishes his education, when you see here in Britain a massive, real problem with the

notion of deporting black people, Caribbean people who were brought over here at the invitation of the government to help build this country after

the war.

And yet, this kind of stuff can casually still happen. In Starbucks, two black people are arrested just for going in there and waiting for a friend.

It doesn't happen to white people.

Where do you get your energy from?

STEVENSON: Well, I just recognize that justice is a constant struggle. I understand that we've got a lot of work to do to eliminate the presumptions

of dangerousness and guilt that get assigned to black and brown people.

But I'm also persuaded that hopelessness is the enemy of justice. injustice prevails where hopelessness persists. So, it is necessary that I

stay hopeful about what we can do.

I'm the great-grandson of people who were enslaved. My great-grandfather was enslaved in Virginia. My grandmother was terrorized during the era of

lynching and fled Virginia. My parents were humiliated every day during the Jim Crow era when they had to see those signs that say white and color

which weren't directions to them. They were assaults. They created injuries.

And despite the fact that enslaved people have been brutalized, when they got emancipation, they didn't say, let's kill all the white people, let's

seek revenge. They said, let's find a way to create peace and justice and they were promised freedom, but what they've got instead was terrorism and


And even during that era, the response was, let's find a way to create peace and justice. During the Civil Rights Movement despite the

humiliation and the indignation of segregation the brutality of sheriffs and police who put dogs and fire hoses on non-violent protesters who just

wanted to be free, just wanted to vote, the call was still to keep finding a way for peace and justice.

So, in the midst of this epidemic of over incarceration, this continuation of assault on black and brown people in the immigration context in the

Starbucks, in the public spaces, I still have to call for peace and justice because I know that there is this line that will define how we are viewed

in this world and that line requires us to keep searching for peace, keep searching for justice to avoid hatred and violence, to avoid the bigotry

that has defined our community.

[14:25:06] And so, for me, hope is a requirement. And when I look back at the people who've done the kind of work I'm trying to do today, and I think

about those folks in Montgomery 60 years ago who had to frequently say my head is bloodied, but not bowed, I don't have any excuses for finding a way

to stay hopeful, to keep fighting, to honor that commitment to justice, to struggle.

Because I do believe, one day, we'll get to a point where we can actually claim more freedom, we can experience something that feels more like

equality and justice, but we can't get there if we're unwilling to stay hopeful about what we can do and to create a more just society.

AMANPOUR: Well, Bryan Stevenson, keep fighting. We're in your corner. Thank you so much, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice


STEVENSON: Thank you so much. Thank you.

As Stevenson said, there are few people who can name anyone who's been lynched. And so, we want to remember just three.

Jeff Brown was lynched in 1916 for accidentally bumping up against a white woman.

Jesse Thornton was lynched in 1940 for failing to address a white policeman as mister.

And Elizabeth Lawrence, a teacher, was lynched in Birmingham for telling a group of white boys not to throw stones.

Now, tomorrow and Friday, I'll be broadcasting this show from South Korea as it holds that historic summit with the North. And Foreign Minister Kang

Kyung-wha will be on the show from Seoul.

That is it for our program tonight. And remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at And you can always follow

me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.