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Talks Move Quickly; Kim Jong-un Tours Singapore; Trump and Kim's One-on-One Meeting; Trump and Advisers Lash Out at Allies. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired June 11, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Have a great day.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, 1:00 a.m. Tuesday in Singapore. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
Just hours from now, history in the making. After months of heated rhetoric and optimistic breakthroughs, the president of the United States set to meet with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, a meeting with nuclear implications. We're getting new details about the summit. The world is watching.
Plus, as the president gets ready to face Kim Jong-un, he's at war with some key U.S. allies. President Trump and his advisers continue to insult and blast G-7 leaders' actions that are completely upending the old world order. All of that coming up.
But first, face to face and one on one. That's the way the historic summit between the U.S. president and the North Korean leader will start just hours from now.
In what could only be described as surprising, we actually saw Kim Jong-un walking around Singapore just a little while ago. You see him there with his sizeable entourage and security detail. He seems to be enjoying this -- his time in the spotlight on the world stage, even stopping to be part of this picture with Singapore's foreign minister.
Adding to the circus atmosphere was the arrival just a little while ago of the former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman, who actually has met with Kim before. Now he wants credit for the summit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA STAR: I'm just happy to be a part of it because I think that is very (INAUDIBLE). I think that I brought awareness to a lot of things around the world. And I think North Korea has gave a lot of people an opportunity to do this conference now, and I hope it's a success.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Rodman hasn't been invited to the talks. We'll see what happens as the day and the next day continue.
Meanwhile, President Trump and the American delegation are hopeful this upcoming summit will bear fruit. But if they -- if the summit doesn't bear fruit, the United States seems ready to act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are hopeful this summit will have set the conditions for future productive talks. The complete and verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korea peninsula is the only outcome that the United States will accept. Sanctions will remain until North Korea completely and verifiably eliminates its weapons of mass destruction programs. If diplomacy does not move in the right direction, and we are hopeful that it will continue to do so, those measures will increase.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Joining us now live from Singapore, our White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins. Also joining us from Singapore, our senior international correspondent Ivan Watson.
Kaitlan, talk a little bit about the president's expectations for the summit. And we've already had a schedule change, I take this. Walk us through that.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We have had a schedule change, Wolf. Right now it's the calm before the sit-down. We're about eight hours away before President Trump and Kim Jong-un are expected to sit down together and shake hands. It's unclear, still, what is going to come of that one-on-one meeting between the two leaders. You heard from Secretary of State Pompeo there really telling reporters that the North Koreans have not made any concrete commitments ahead of that expected meeting.
But what we do know is that what tomorrow is going to -- or what the day is shaping up to look like for President Trump. He's going to be in that one-on-one with just him, Kim Jong-un and their translators, and then they will move on to an expanded bilateral meeting before holding a working lunch with a slew of other United States officials and North Korean officials.
But then President Trump is going to hold a press conference, so we'll hear more from him there about what exactly has transpired during that one-on-one with Kim Jong-un and whether he got any assurances from him about denuclearizing.
But the White House has announced that President Trump is expected to leave Singapore now at 8:00 tomorrow night. That is roughly not too far from now. But the White House is saying that he will be leaving here shortly after those talks do transpire.
That's news because President Trump hinted last week that the talks could go on longer for the -- longer than one day if he believed progress was being made and things were going well. So it's unclear if the White House is trying to send a signal to the North Koreans by moving that departure date up, but we do know the president is expected to leave.
Right now we're just waiting to see what he and Kim Jong-un have to say to each other in this historic meeting, Wolf.
BLITZER: Lots at stake.
Stand by, Kaitlan.
Ivan, we heard a little bit from the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just -- not too long ago. What are the North Koreans saying ahead of the meeting?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, there's that remarkable scene of Kim Jong-un himself just hours ago enjoying a stroll around Singapore, escorted by the Singaporean foreign minister, who may have taken the first ever selfie of the North Korean dictator, who he posed for. We could see the foreign minister holding the phone up to take that photo. They were walking around the hotel behind me, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
[13:05:09] The North Korean leader exuding confidence and comfort hours ahead of this potentially historic meeting with President Trump. So that sends a pretty remarkable signal and the reactions from some people on the ground here was striking. You could hear people yelling "welcome" to him or cheering as the dictator walked around.
The North Korean government has announced in its state media that this meeting is taking place. Sometimes it takes days for them to actually publicize this kind of diplomacy. And they've actually mentioned the word denuclearization in the internal, tightly-controlled North Korean press, which is notable because it was just months ago that North Korea was celebrating that it has achieved becoming a nuclear armed state. Some have interpreted this as a sign that they're preparing their own public for the possibility of perhaps some kind of disarmament. The South Korean government saying that they're optimistic about that kind of a statement.
But the stakes are so high. Pope Francis, over the weekend, praying for peace here in Singapore. Hearing similar messages from the Japanese government, the U.N. secretary-general, who also offered U.N. agencies to help with possible verification and monitoring of North Korea's nuclear facilities should the talks progress further.
And so interesting that you mentioned Dennis Rodman's arrival here, because it's just a few years ago, Wolf, that the former NBA star was perhaps the most high-profile international figure who was meeting with Kim Jong-un. Look how much a few months have changed that equation where now he's met with the Chinese leader two times, he's met with the South Korean president twice, and is now on the verge of meeting with the U.S. president.
BLITZER: He's met twice with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well. Before Pompeo, Dennis Rodman, we believe, was the only U.S. citizen ever to have met with Kim Jong-un. Ivan Watson and Kaitlan Collins, guys, thanks very much, both
reporting live from Singapore.
The stakes clearly are very, very high, but President Trump says he'll know in the first minute or so if Kim Jong-un is really serious about these negotiations. Listen to what the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said just a little while ago about the lengths the United States will go for a successful summit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're prepared to take what will be security assurances that are different, unique, than have been provided -- that America has been willing to provide previously. We think this is both necessary and appropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, joining us now to discuss various possibilities, the former senior adviser at the U.S. State Department, now a visiting professor at Georgetown University, Balbina Hwang.
Balbina, thanks so much for joining us.
So what do you think the U.S. will be seeking in these talks?
BALBINA HWANG, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, it's quite fascinating. This is one of the most remarkable meetings that we're seeing. We simply don't know. I mean Secretary Pompeo was very clear. He said nothing short of CVID (ph). So these are the standard -- exactly the standard positions that we've always seen from the United States.
But it's not quite clear exactly what it is that the United States is going to be willing to offer to Kim Jong-un. So -- and we'll see what Kim Jong-un is bringing to the table as well.
BLITZER: So the U.S. will want denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, it depends on the definition, ending all ballistic missile testing on the part of the North Koreans and stopping military threats, especially against South Korea.
What do you think the North Koreans will be seeking?
HWANG: Well, certainly security guarantees from the United States, withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula, and negotiating an end of the peace -- the end of the Korean War. Now, we'll see if -- actually, and, of course, an end to the actual alliance.
Now, we'll see if actually President Trump is willing to end the U.S. or to withdraw some of the U.S. troops, because this is something that President Trump, I think personally has argued for and he has campaigned on it, and he seems to be intent on doing this on a personal level.
BLITZER: The withdrawing the 30,000 U.S. troops from South Korea, is that what you're saying?
HWANG: That's correct. And he's argued about this. And he seems to argue about this personally and believes in it.
BLITZER: Yes, over the years, over many years, he's been very consistent. He wants those U.S. troops out of South Korea. He wants the thousands of U.S. troops out of Japan. He's got -- and Germany, for that matter, as well. He doesn't understand why the U.S. still maintains, after all these years, thousands and thousands of troops in various locations like that.
What about potential surprises that could emerge over the next 24 hours?
HWANG: Now, there is talk that they -- the two of them might actually walk out with a piece of paper that actually just declares an end to the Korean War and the Korean conflict. President --
[13:10:06] BLITZER: Because there are some surprises that you've suggested may emerge.
HWANG: Now, this is one of the most remarkable things, and it would be an incredible gesture. President Trump keeps talking about that he's -- that he's secured the return of the U.S. detainees, the three. And that was certainly an important gesture from North Korea.
However, the return of the USS Pueblo. Now, many Americans may not remember this, but, in fact, just 50 years ago, January, North Korea held hostage 83 American sailors for almost a year, brutally held them. And, in fact, one sailor was killed. And, in fact, it's a U.S. Naval ship that is still kept in North Korea. It is held as incredible propaganda. It's a museum ship. And if North Korea were to return that, that would be an incredible victory for President Trump. It is something that the United States very, very much wants to get back. It would be an incredible gesture by Kim Jong-un.
BLITZER: It would be a surprise also if they signed a formal agreement, as you pointed out, formally ending the state of war with North Korean. And then, of course, a longshot, you think, if they formally establish diplomatic relations. There are no diplomatic relations right now.
HWANG: Well, and that's very much a longshot because North Korea is still a nuclear power and we can simply not legitimize them. But there's also the issue of accounting for U.S. MIAs and prisoners of war still from the Korean War.
BLITZER: I'm sure a lot of those issues have been discussed in these preliminary meetings with Pompeo (INAUDIBLE) and the North Koreans among other U.S.-North Korean officials who have been engaged in an intensive dialogue.
Balbina, thank you very much for that analysis.
All this happening as the president and his advisers attacking and insulting some of the G-7 allies, saying Canada's Justin Trudeau stabbed the president in the back. Those allies reaction. That's coming up next.
Plus, former President Barack Obama holding some secret meetings with a few of the 2020 Democratic presidential possible contenders. You're going to hear why and which hopefuls he's actually talking to.
And a U.S. Air Force officer with top secret clearances missing for 35 years. All of a sudden he's been found alive, living in California, and now he's in custody. We'll have the story.
Lots of news. We'll be right back.
[13:16:29] BLITZER: President Trump just hours away now from his historic summit with the North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, but still apparently fuming over the summit he just left -- left, the G-7 conference in Canada. What was supposed to be a very friendly meeting of very close allies turned out to be anything but. The president sparked a war of words when he refused to sign the group's final communique and went on a Twitter tirade against the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, after Trudeau said Canada -- after Trudeau said Canada would still retaliate against new U.S. tariffs, the president calling the prime minister "dishonest" and "weak." That also prompt these outbursts from the president's top economic adviser and his top trade adviser.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KUDLOW, TRUMP'S CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER: He really kind of stabbed us in the back. He really actually, you know what, he did a great disservice to the whole G-7. He betrayed --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trudeau did?
KUDLOW: Yes, he did, because they were united in the G-7. They came together. And I was there extensively. I was involved in these late- night negotiations. President Trump was charming, good faith. I was in the bilateral meeting with Trudeau and President Trump, and they were getting along famously.
PETER NAVARRO, TRUMP'S TRADE ADVISER: Chris, there's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Trump's anger isn't just confined to Canada. We've also learned that as far back as April, during a conversation with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, the president told Macron that the E.U. was worse than China when it comes to trade with the United States. And while Germany wasn't singled out at the G-7, the chancellor, Angela Merkel, called Trump's decision not to sign the communique, and I'm quoting now, sobering and somewhat depressing.
Let's get reaction from each of those countries. CNN's Paula Newton is in Ottawa, Jim Bittermann is in Paris, Atika Shubert is in Berlin.
Paula, how did this go over, this extraordinary exchange with the Canadians?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, unbelievable, Wolf. You could imagine it was pretty universal in the point that people were stunned, they were floored, left reeling. The prime minister himself, Wolf, refused to engage. He would not say anything. He's got a day off today. He'll be in front of the cameras later this week. We will ask him again.
But at this point, those words, special place in hell, I mean we know that these are words that are usually reserved for dictators and criminals. So Canadians quite baffled as to why this would happen.
But they're also unnerved, Wolf. Remember, one of the largest trading relationships in the world hangs in the balance. Canada is America's largest customer. People are wondering now whether or not Trump will go through with what were threats a few months ago to pull out of NAFTA. And many Canadians here wondering when congressional leaders are actually going to take notice of the language that Donald Trump is using and whether they think this is a shrewd negotiating ploy or dangerous for American business.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, that's a good point because when it comes to -- when it comes to trade and services between the U.S. and Canada, the U.S. has a surplus when you include services.
Paula, stand by in Ottawa.
Jim Bittermann's getting reaction in Paris. What are you hearing, Jim?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: : Well, in fact, Wolf, if there was -- you needed more evidence that the Macron- Trump bromance, if that's what it was, is over, it came from the Elysee Palace, the presidential palace, here just after that angry tweet from Trump aboard Air Force One. The palace put out this, international cooperation can't depend on anger and small words. Let's be serious and worthy of our people. We spent two days obtaining and draft and commitments. We stick to it. And anyone who leaves and turns their back on them shows their inconsistency. So Macron there obviously displaying a little anger through his writers at the Elysee Palace.
[13:20:33] One newspaper here said it was like a bomb being dropped on the G-7 summit from Air Force One.
And just for the record, Wolf, the latest surveys we could find on Trump's approval ratings among some French people, back at the beginning of the year, it was about 14 percent. It's probably a lot lower today, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Bittermann in Paris.
Atika -- Atika Shubert is in Berlin for us.
What are you hearing from the Germans, Atika?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Germans seem less angry and just more exasperated really. Clearly disappointed at what's happened, but not surprised. I mean, you know, the Iran deal, the Paris Climate Accord and now the G-7.
Chancellor Merkel had an interview last night on TV. She said she gets the impression that the president believes there can only be one side that wins, the other side loses.
And this is not something that Germany believes in, especially when it comes to world trade. They believe there is a win-win situation to be had. So Merkel says, look, she'll continue to try and have a good relationship with the U.S., but she also has said last night that she doesn't know if it's possible to rely on that relationship anymore, that Europe really has to look to its own future, not just on security, but also on world trade. Today she'll be meeting with the heads of the IMF, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank to discuss all these issues.
BLITZER: Atika, thank you so much.
Paula Newton and Jim Bittermann, thanks to you as well.
I want to bring in Ian Bremmer right now. He's a global research professor at New York University. He heads the Eurasia Group. That's a think tank.
Ian, thanks so much for joining us.
As you know, the prime minister of Canada didn't say anything that seemed all that inflammatory. In fact, he appeared to be speaking rather diplomatically. Why do you think all of this -- this chaos, this backlash, was coming from the White House and the strong words attacking Prime Minister Trudeau?
IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Well, Trump didn't want to go to the G-7. And, as you know, when he's forced to do things that he doesn't want to do, he lashes out. He showed up late. He canceled his private bilateral with the French president, Macron, at the last moment. He left early and then when -- clearly when he saw the statements that came from Trudeau, which, you're right, Wolf, I mean they were no different than what he had said in advance of the summit, that he was -- the Canadians did not consider themselves a national security threat to the U.S. They would retaliate if tariffs were placed on by the United States. Trump said this is not going to stand, and then he launched his tirade.
It is probably the geopolitical equivalent of when he fired Comey. I'm sure it felt great at the time, was very satisfying. There was no emotional or impulse control. And long term the damage this is going to do to Trump and the United States and his relations with some of the most important American allies in the world I think is going to be significant.
BLITZER: Are we seeing the embodiment, Ian, of what's called an America first strategy being played out? And how longstanding will this damage be?
BREMMER: Well, it's not just that, right? I mean America first is unilateralist, it's very transactional, it's not values based. So if you can get a deal done with North Korea, great. If the Chinese and the Russians can work with you, great. It's not long term or strategic. That's what the Chinese are doing right now.
So the Chinese are the big winners here. And I think that's the major implication of all of this, is that while the Americans, the Europeans, the Japanese are all in disarray, the Chinese have not only -- it's not about stealing America's goods, it's also stealing America's strategy. They're the ones that are writing the big checks that are creating institution architecture. Other countries are aligning with the.
But's it's not just America first. It's also that Trump went there. And in addition to pressing his point strongly, he went out of his way to antagonize and insult these individual leaders. And let's remember, they're people, they're politicians that have their own domestic political constituencies that they have to support, just like Trump does with his own base, and there are also people that will work more closely with you if you like them. Trump said that out of a scale of one to 10, his relationship with the American allies at the G-7 was a 10. The U.S. relationship may be about a five. Trump's personal relationship with those leaders right now is pretty close to a zero.
BLITZER: And, as you know, the president, over the past few days, has been suggesting that Russia should be added back to the G-7. It should, once again, become the G-8. It was the prime minister of Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau, who spoke out and said that wasn't an option for him, at least not now.
[13:25:04] Why do you think the president is all of a sudden suggesting that Russia should be included? I'm sure the Russians are pretty happy, Putin is pretty happy to see this split developing between the U.S., the European, the Canadian allies, the split with NATO as well.
BREMMER: Yes, I mean he obviously was antagonizing them.
Wolf, you'll remember back at the G-20 in Germany last year, that at that dinner, when Trump was getting bored with all of the American allies around the table, he gets up, he moves around and he sits down next to Putin and they talk for almost an hour. He's much more personally comfortable with Putin. He knows that the allies are not going to react well to him suggesting that Putin should show up. He doesn't care.
This was yet one more sort of verbal fusillade that he was throwing in. Same president that during the French president's speech, he actually took off his earpiece and wasn't listening to a translation. Unless it's about him, he's not really all that interested, and he put that on very clear display at the G-7 this weekend.
BLITZER: Ian Bremmer, thanks so much for that analysis.
BREMMER: My pleasure.
BLITZER: New questions today over why former President Obama is now meeting with possible 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. We'll discuss that.
Plus, Robert De Niro getting a standing ovation at the Tony Awards for dropping the f-bomb in a rant against President Trump. Does this play into the president's base?