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Trump Holds News Conference at Summit. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 12, 2018 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A new era of diplomacy as President Trump signs a document alongside Kim Jong-Un.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The North Korean dictator pledging to complete denuclearization on the Korean peninsula.

BRIGGS: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans in New York. It is Tuesday, June 12, It's exactly 4:00 a.m. in the east.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman, in Singapore. It is 4:00 p.m. We have been here for 50 straight hours to witness, frankly, history.

In moments, President Trump will hold a news conference to explain what happened behind closed doors with Kim Jong-Un. We have live pictures, I believe, of where the president will be moments from now. That news conference scheduled to begin at 4:00 a.m. Eastern time. You see it is dragging a little bit. We will bring that to you live when it happens.

The president of the United States and dictator of North Korea did meet. They did shake hands and they did sign this declaration at the end of historic meeting. What is in the declaration? That is what is in contention right now.

This is something that no sitting U.S. President has ever done. Meet face-to-face with a North Korean leader. It is something each North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, his father and grandfather, all wanted, but Kim Jong-Un and President Trump the first to actually make it happen.

The president said he forged a special bond with Kim. He said Kim loves his country very much. Remember, Kim is a leader accused of human rights violations, crimes against his own people. Nevertheless, the president declared this meeting a great success and promised denuclearization on the Korean peninsula quickly, very quickly.

Joining me now is chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He is at the Marriott awaiting the news conference.

Jim, again, the president has to answer questions about what was achieved here. Yes, historic meeting and handshake. Unprecedented in many ways. Now the questions will be on what is being delivered. JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOISUE CORRESPONDENT: That's right,

John. No question about it. History was made today. U.S. President met face-to-face with North Korean, dictator, Kim Jong-Un.

As you mentioned a few moments ago, while statements made by the president and Kim Jong-Un and what they accomplished, is not clear. And in the long run, it results in North Korea giving up nuclear weapons. As you heard throughout the day, I tried to ask the president several times is North Korea giving up nuclear weapons. You heard the president saying that the process is getting under way very quickly. Of course, at the same time, it is not clear what was actually perceived by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un. In the statement they signed, it talks about a firm and commitment to denuclearization. It is not clear what kind of teeth the United States has in the agreement. I suspect it is one of the main questions for the president when he steps up to the podium in a few moments.

I can mention. sitting behind me is Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It is interesting to find, John, how the president will talk about the agreement. All day long, it looked as if the president was off to a bromance with one of the most brutal people in the entire world. It is not sure if the president has a commitment for denuclearization or get the process started. This may be the beginning and certainly not the end -- John?

BERMAN: Jim Acosta live at the conference.

We will bring it to you live as soon as it happens. It is scheduled to begin momentarily.

In the meantime, we want to bring back, senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, and CNN global affairs analyst, Ambassador Joseph Yun, the special representative for North Korean policy for years.

Thank you so much for being with us.

Let me read you part of the joint statement. It says, "President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Kim Jong-Un reaffirmed commitment of denuclearization in the Korean peninsula. Then the four points they all signed and agreed upon.

Ambassador, you just told me you are surprised by this document.

JOSEPH YUN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST John, I am quite surprised. I thought there would be a lot more. You just mentioned the critical part of the short document. It doesn't say anything. It doesn't say anything that has been said before. Excuse me. And my question is, is there something more to it because it says nothing. Now, if we accept this -- I'm really looking forward to see the president tell us exactly what more there's because by itself we are nowhere meeting any expectation or testing Kim Jong-Un's assertion that he has changed and they are looking for a path to denuclearization. It mentions nothing about denuclearization. Zero. Accept one phrase. We reaffirm. In other words, they said it before again and again. [04:05:37] BERMAN: Again, this may be the difference between style

and substance. The president may have to address this shortly at the news conference. We will bring it to you live as soon as it happens.

Jeff Zeleny, we heard in the president's words. He seemed to be pleased. He used the word historic and talked about the new relationship.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HIOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He did. He liked the image. Part was many people did not think he could pull this meeting off, including his advisers. I think the next step of watching this is how is this relayed to the North Koreans on state media. How is it translated to them? Will it be the same? Is this comment that chairman Kim said historic meetings and decided to leave the past behind and the world will see a major change. Is that quote going to be translated? I think how he describes this meeting is important. But I think overall there's no question that Kim Jong-Un came to Singapore and won big on an elevation standpoint. He was an equal to the president of the United States of America.

YUN: I think we have to know that summits are not strategy. They are part of a strategy and we got confused. Having the meeting without properly knowing the end goal in mind. To me, it happens when you have a summit, which is top down rather than built from bottom up. You could see throughout the process we kept on changing the goals. Initially, the goal was CVID, complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. And summits are not about process. It is an end goal in which you close everything down.

BERMAN: CVID not mentioned. Those words really deliberately left out.

Jeff asked a question. I want your take on it. We saw from North Korean media overnight of Kim Jong-Un walking around the city being presented as a celebrity. How will this be presented to the North Korean people?

YUN: Jeff says it is a win for them. Now they are seeing Kim Jong-Un as an equal to the most powerful leader of the world. The president of the United States. You saw that. North Korea and U.S. I think we are aimed at getting into the North Korean game and in the end keeping the weapons and saying listen, this is the fact of life. I'm worried that we're getting into this slippery slope where they do nothing. And the next big question will be, having been such good friends, are we going to ease sanctions? That will be the next demand. You know? You say you are my friend. We are going to change. Why not sanctions?

ZELENY: You saw the chemistry there. I'm curious. Is there any diplomacy that can grow out of chemistry like this? Was this a show by two men who know the power of the images?

YUN: I think both men had to say it was a success. For Kim Jong-Un, discuss was buying time and keeping his weapons for now and making sure others eased on sanctions. For President Trump, success was getting something concrete on denuclearization. We're just not there. Let's see what he has to say. I don't see it put down on paper.

BERMAN: We talked about this, ambassador. We did say having this meeting and dialogue and picture or series of six photo ops over the five-hour meeting is better than the "Rocket Man" rhetoric and fire and fury exchanged between the United States and North Korea. It was improvement over that. It may have paused that dangerous situation. Is that enough? It seems you are saying now you're disappointed.

[04:09:55] YUN: I'm disappointed. This was an opportunity. It was a chance to make a step. Take a step. A big step toward making the region safer by doing something about the nuclear weapons and the delivery system as shown by ICBMs. It was not done that by the declaration. Maybe and again, if we do kickoff a process, maybe we will get there. Summits should be at the end of that, not the beginning.

#: We did hear and saw the two leaders together. We heard very little from Kim Jong-Un ever. We did get a chance to hear from him today side by side with the president. Listen to what he said.


KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translation): Today, we had historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind and we are about to sign the historic document.

The world will see a major change.

I would like to express my gratitude to President Trump to make this meeting happen. Thank you.



BERMAN: Again, thanking the U.S. president. That is something we have never seen before.

Obviously, there are next steps and future meetings. Mike Pompeo already on the phone with Japan and South Korea. What else happens?

ZELENY: We know in the one-page statement, not a communique, but statement. It says quickly they will have further discussions with Mike Pompeo and North Korean official. We will see where that leads. My question is a couple of months ago, President Trump when he was at Mar-a-Lago, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting him. He said he would walk away from the deal or meeting with Kim Jong-Un if he did not take him seriously. Now this meeting has happened, is President Trump still willing to walk away from something or is he so invested in this now that he has to make this work? We heard Senator McConnell say you can get snookered when you want a meeting too much.

Is he to invested to walk away?

YUN: I don't know if he should walk away. You said he almost walked away when he said the meeting is off. This was about 10 days ago. I can imagine him going back and reflecting on it, and remember, his national security adviser is John Bolton, who has always had real deep misgivings about doing this. Maybe reflecting on it. Maybe can change his mind. We saw from clearly the North Korean determination that they are not about to give up nuclear weapons. This was made clear again today. When it dawns on him that maybe he is not going to get there, maybe he may think again.

BERMAN: What happened behind closed doors. Give us a sense of what was going on with the U.S. working group which was led by the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines who has knowledge of the Korean peninsula. His group met. I assume the U.S. was trying to get something more solid than what we have here in the document?

YUN: Yes. They were trying to get much more solid document. At least a commitment on language if nothing else that they will do CVID/ They could not get that. In the end, it was the same phrase. Reaffirm. Denuclearization is about the whole Korean peninsula. Not about us. Although there are no nuclear weapons in South Korea.

BERMAN: Jeff and I were eager to talk to you. No one knows this subject and area better than you do. One thing we wondered was how does China see this? Do you think China will continue its commitment to the sanctions that has imposed over the last several months or will they look at the meeting and say the U.S. and North Korea are friendly and we are not as strict about them?

YUN: I think your latter point is pretty much on the ball. China also wants to drag this out. There's no interest in China. North Korea opening up and being very close to U.S. or even South Korea. I would think -- this is my suspicion. China would be the first one to formally ask for sanctions to be lifted. Before then, I think you see the implementation already on sanctions very, very lax.

ZELENY: I think Congress will have something to say about sanctions as well. One thing we see again and again from President Trump after a big event like this, he really is a close --


[04:15:13] BERMAN: I have been told that President Trump is walking out, walking to the microphone. The president of the United States following the historic summit with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un. He'll face questions about the document.

TRUMP: Tremendous 24 hours, had a tremendous three months actually because this has been going on actually for quite a while.

and that was the take that we gave to Chairman Kim and his people, his representatives and it captures a lot, it captures what could be done.

It's a great place, has the potential to be an incredible place between South Korea and if you think about it and China, it's got tremendous potential and I think he understands that and he wants to do what's right. And it's my honor today to address the people of the world following this very historic summit with Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea. We've spent very intensive hours together and I think most of you have gotten the signed document or you will very shortly. It's very comprehensive, it's going to happen. I stand before you as an emissary of the American people to deliver a message of hope and vision and a message of peace.

Let me begin by thanking our incredible hosts in Singapore, especially Prime Minister Lee, a friend of mine. This is a country of profound grace and beauty and we send our warmest wishes to every citizen of Singapore who really made this visit so important and so pleasant, in spite of all of the work and all the long hours.

I also want to thank President Moon of South Korea. He's working hard, in fact, I'll be speaking to him right after we're finished.

Prime Minister Abe of Japan, a friend of mine, just left our country. And he wants what's right for Japan and for the world. Good man.

And a very special person, President Xi of China, who has really closed up that border maybe a little less so over the last couple of months, but that's okay. But he really has and he's a terrific person and a friend of mine and really a great leader of his people.

I want to thank them for their efforts to help us get to this very historic day. Most importantly, I want to thank Chairman Kim for taking the first bold step toward a bright new future for his people. Our unprecedented meeting, the first between an American president and a leader of North Korea proves that real change is indeed possible.

My meeting with Chairman Kim was honest, direct and productive. We got to know each other well in a very confined period of time under very strong, strong circumstance. We're prepared to start a new history and we're ready to write a new chapter between our nations.

Nearly 70 years ago, think of that, 70 years ago, an extremely bloody conflict ravaged the Korean Peninsula. Countless people died in the conflict including tens of thousands of brave Americans. Yet while the armistice was agreed to, the war never ended to this day, it never ended. But now, we can all have hope that it will soon end and it will. It will soon end.

The past does not have to define the future. Yesterday's conflict does not have to be tomorrow's war. And as history has proven over and over again, adversaries can indeed become friends. We can honor the sacrifice of our forefathers by replacing the horrors of battle with the blessings of peace and that's what we're doing, and that's what we have done.

There is no limit to what North Korea can achieve when it gives up its nuclear weapons and embraces commerce and engagement with the rest of the world that really wants to engage. Chairman Kim has before him an opportunity like no other, to be remembered as the leader who ushered in a glorious new era of security and prosperity for his people.

Chairman Kim and I just signed a joint statement in which he reaffirms his unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

[04:20:00] We also agreed to vigorous negotiations to implement the agreement as soon as possible, and he wants to do that. This isn't the past. This isn't another administration that never got it started and, therefore, never got it done.

Chairman Kim has told me that North Korea is already destroying a major missile engine testing site. That's not in your signed document; we agreed to that after the agreement was signed. That's a big thing. For the missiles that they were testing, the site is going to be destroyed very soon.

Today is the beginning of an arduous process. Our eyes are wide open, but peace is always worth the effort, especially in this case. This should have been done years ago. This should have been resolved a long time ago. But we're resolving it now.

Chairman Kim has the chance to seize an incredible future for his people. Anyone can make war, but only the most courageous can make peace. The current state of affairs cannot endure forever.

The people of Korea, North and South, are profoundly talented, industrious and gifted. These are truly gifted people. They share the same heritage, language, customs, culture and destiny. But to realize their amazing destiny, to reunite their national family, the menace of nuclear weapons will now be removed.

In the meantime, the sanctions will remain in effect. We dream of a future where all Koreans can live together in harmony, where families are reunited and hopes are reborn and where the light of peace chases away the darkness of war. This bright future is within and this is what's happening. It is right there, it's within our reach. It's going to be there. It's going to happen.

People thought this could never take place. It is now taking place. It's a very great day. It's a very great moment in the history of the world. And Chairman Kim is on his way back to North Korea, and I know for a fact that as soon as he arrives, he's going to start a process that's going to make a lot of people very happy and very safe.

So, it's an honor to be with everybody today, the media, it's a big gathering of media, I will say. It makes me feel very uncomfortable. But it is what it is. People understand that this is something very important to all of us including yourselves and your families. So, thank you very much for being here. We'll take some questions.

Wow, it's a lot of questions. Go ahead. Sure. Go ahead. NBC.

QUESTION: Mr. Thank you, Mr. President. Two questions for you if you don't mind. First, the man you met today, Kim Jong-un, as you know, has killed family members, has starved his own people, is responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier. Why are you so comfortable calling him very talented?

TRUMP: Well, he is very talented. Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough, I don't say it was nice or I don't say anything about it, he ran it. Very few people at that age, you can take one out of 10,000 probably couldn't do it.

Otto Warmbier is a very special person and he will be for a long time in my life. His parents are good friends of mine. I think without Otto, this would not have happened. Something happened from that day. It was a terrible thing. It was brutal. But a lot of people started to focus on what was going on, including North Korea.

I really think that Otto is someone who did not die in vain. I told this to his parents. A special young man and I have to say, special parents, special people. Otto did not die in vain. He had a lot to do with us being here today. Okay. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: The second question for you, sir, was on the security. The second question is on the security assurances you talked about in your statement. Can you be specific about what assurances you are willing to give to Kim Jong-un? Does that include reducing military capabilities? And just to follow-up on your answer...

TRUMP: No. No, we're not reducing anything. We're not reducing. At some point I have to be honest and I used to say this during my campaign as you know probably better than most, I want to get our soldiers out. I want to bring our soldiers back home.

We have right now 32,000 soldiers in South Korea. And I'd like to be able to bring them back home, but that's not part of the equation right now. At some point I hope it will be but not right now.

[04:25:00] We will be stopping the war games which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should. But we'll be saving a tremendous amount of money, plus I think it's very provocative.

Yes, John? Yes, John, go ahead. Oh, go ahead. I'm sorry. I thought you were John Roberts. I looked at you and you look just much better, right?

QUESTION: All right. We're frequently - we're frequently confused, Mr. President.


QUESTION: Mr. President, the joint statement does not talk about verifiable or irreversible denuclearization.


QUESTION: Is that a concession on the part of the United States?

TRUMP: No. Not at all because if you look at it, I mean it said we are going to -- let's see here. It will be gone -- I don't think it can be anymore plain than what we're asking, issues related to the establishment of the new U.S.-DPRK relations, the building.

We talk about the guarantees. And we talk about unwavering commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. This is the document that we just signed.

QUESTION: Did you discuss with Chairman Kim methods to verify, either with the United States or international organizations that very process and do you--

TRUMP: Yes, we did. Yes, we did. And we'll be verifying. Yes. We'll be verifying. It will be verified.

QUESTION: How is that going to be achieved, Mr. President?

TRUMP: Well, it's going to be achieved by having a lot of people there. And as we develop a certain trust and we think we have done that, Secretary Pompeo has been really doing a fantastic job. His staff, everybody. As we do that, we're going to have a lot of people there and we're going to be working with them on a lot of other things. But this is complete denuclearization of North Korea.

QUESTION: Will those people...

TRUMP: And it will be verified.

QUESTION: Will those people be Americans or international--

TRUMP: Combinations of both. Combinations of both. And we have talked about it.

Yes? Yes, go ahead. Be nice. Be respectful.

QUESTION: I'll be very respectful, sir.

What did Kim Jong-un say to you to give you the confidence that for once in the history of North Korea they are not cheating the system and gaming the world and gaming the people who will have to go in and make sure that they're actually giving up their nuclear arsenals?

TRUMP: Yes. I mean, very questions. He actually mentioned the fact that they proceeded down a path in the past and ultimately as you know nothing got done. In one case, they took billions of dollars during the Clinton regime.

Took billions of dollars and nothing happened. That was a terrible thing. And he actually brought it up to me. And he said, we have never gone this far. I don't think they've ever had the confidence, frankly, in a president that they have right now for getting things done and having the ability to get things done.

And he was very firm in the fact that he wants to do this. I think he might want to do this as much or even more than me, because they see a very bright future for North Korea. So, you never know, right? We never know, but I'll tell you what, we signed a very comprehensive document today. And I think most of you have been given that document. But we signed a very, very comprehensive document.

And I believe he's going to live up to that document. In fact, when he lands, which is going to be shortly, I think that he will start that process right away. QUESTION: Do you...

TRUMP: I do. I do. I can only say that I know him for really well, it's been very rhetorical as you know. I think without the rhetoric it wouldn't have happened. I think without other things going along, I think the establishment of a new team was very important. We have a great team.

But I do. I think he wants to get it done. I really feel that very strongly. Oh, there is John. I think, you know, you two guys look alike when the light is right on them. The hair is very similar. Let me see who has better hair.

QUESTION: It's the...

TRUMP: He's got pretty good hair, John...

QUESTION: It's the angelic glow of the backlighting, Mr. President, or something similar. Of course, the denuclearization of nuclear weapons and biological weapons and whatnot is one problem in North Korea. Another huge problem is the horrible record that they have on human rights. Was that discussed at all?


QUESTION: Is that something that you will tackle in--?

TRUMP: Yes, it was discussed. It will be discussed more in the future, human rights. What was also discussed in great detail, John, was the fact that we have -- and I must have had just countless calls and letters and tweets, anything you can do. They want the remains of their sons back.

They want the remains of their fathers and mothers and all of the people that got caught into that really brutal war, which took place to a large extent in North Korea. And I asked for it today. And we got it.

That was a very last minute. The remains will be coming back. They're going to start that process immediately.