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EARLY START

President Trump Holds News Conference with South Korean President Moon; Aired 3:30-4a ET

Aired November 7, 2017 - 03:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[03:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As the South Korean people know so well it's time to act with urgency and with great determination. All nations must implement U.N. Security Council regulations and cease trade and business entirely with North Korea.

It is unacceptable that nations would help to arm and finance this increasingly dangerous regime. As we work together to resolve this problem, using all available tools short of military action, the United States stands prepared to defend itself and its allies, using the full range of our unmatched military capabilities if need be.

The crucial U.S. security partnership with South Korea is just one aspect of our enduring alliance. We also share deep partnerships on a range of issues from cultural exchange to cutting edge advances in science and medicine and the very important issue of trade. Currently we are looking at ways of improving our economic relationship.

I would like to thank you, President Moon, for instructing his trade negotiators to work closely with us to quickly pursue a much better deal. A deal that frankly has been quite unsuccessful and not very good for the United States.

In the more than six decades since we signed our mutual defense treaty, our alliance has grown stronger and deeper. Our two nations symbolize what independent countries can accomplish when they serve the interest of their people, respect the sovereignty of their neighbors and uphold the rule of law.

Imagine the amazing possibilities for a Korean peninsula liberated from the threat of nuclear weapons where all Koreans could enjoy the blessings of liberty and the prosperity that you have achieved right here in South Korea.

I also want to congratulate President Moon and the South Korean people on hosting the Winter Olympics this upcoming February. It will be a truly spectacular event.

Mr. President, I want to thank you, First Lady Kim, and I mean it was just so special today. The ceremony was so beautiful. We very much thank you for it. Together our two nations will handle threats to peace and security, stand up to those who would threaten our freedom and boldly seize the incredible opportunities for a better, brighter and more prosperous tomorrow.

In good times and bad, in moments of great hardship and great success, our two nations can always count on the close bonds and deep friendship we share as free, proud and independent people.

Mr. President, I look forward to the rest of our visit together and I send the wonderful citizens of South Korea the best wishes from the people of the United States of America.

Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): Thank you very much, President Donald Trump. And I would like to invite the questions from the members of the media corps. So we would like to now ask the White House correspondent to the -- from the U.S. to ask questions and President Trump to respond, and then from the blue house, there will be Q and A.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thank you. The first question from the United States, we'll go to Margaret Brennan from CBS.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you. Mr. President --

TRUMP: Which one?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: President Trump, I will have questions for both of you, gentlemen, but, President Trump, you spoke here in South Korea saying that you do believe that the crisis with North Korea will be worked out. So specifically, have you seen any success in your diplomatic strategy so far? And do you still believe that direct talks are a waste of time?

TRUMP: Well, I think you know me well enough to know that I don't like talking about whether I see success or not in a case such as this. We like to play our cards a little bit close to the vest. I will say this that I believe it makes sense for North Korea to do the right thing. Not only for North Korea, but for humanity all over the world. So there is a lot of reason, a lot of good reason behind it.

With that, yes, I think we're making a lot of progress. I think we're showing great strength. I think they understand we have unparalleled strength.

[03:35:06] There has never been strength like it. You know we sent three of the largest aircraft carriers in the world and they're right now positioned. We have a nuclear submarine also positioned. We have many things happening that we hope, we hope -- in fact, I'll go a step further. We hope to God we never have to use.

With that being said, I really believe that it makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and to make a deal that's good for the people of North Korea and the people of the world. I do see certain movement, yes. But let's see what happens.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And on direct talks, sir?

TRUMP: I don't want to say that. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK.

TRUMP: I just don't want to say that. You can understand that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I do, sir. And, President Moon, you, in your meeting earlier with President Trump, were spoken about by President Trump when he gestured to the military purchases that your country will be making. And I'm wondering, as you look towards that military buildup, if that signals something, perhaps a change in your view where you believe a more aggressive stance towards North Korea is more appropriate?

MOON (Through Translator): If I could have the question repeated again. Are you referring to the acquisition of the military assets or are you referring to the military tensions that would be -- that could be incurred?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: President Trump said you will be making military purchases, military equipment. What does that signal and is it a change?

MOON (Through Translator): I'm not entirely sure which direction your question was. But I can say one thing. When it comes to the state of our direct reconnaissance assets and the strategy assets on acquisition of these U.S. strategy assets, we have agreed to begin the consultation for acquisition -- Korea's acquisition of such assets. And that is to enhance Korea's defense capabilities and also the combined defense posture of Korea and the United States. I think it is essential.

TRUMP: Margaret, I may add to that the president and I have agreed, they'll be buying a -- which they want and which they need and everybody thinks it makes a lot of sense. We make the greatest military equipment in the world, whether it's planes, whether it's missiles, no matter what it is. We have the greatest military equipment in the world. And South Korea will be ordering billions of dollars of that equipment, which frankly for them makes a lot of sense and for us it means jobs.

It means reducing our trade deficit with South Korea. But they'll be ordering billions of dollars worth of equipment and we've already approved some of those orders. OK. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): Next we'd like to have the question raise to President Moon from the Korean reporters. Please raise your hand. Yes, Mr. Moon Dong of the daily newspaper. Please go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (Through Translator): I have a question for President Moon. Between Korea and the United States I think one of the most important diplomatic challenges to overcome the result is the nuclear program of the DPRK. And you gave foreign press interview, and you talked about bringing balance and diplomacy and you talked about resolving nuclear threat problem and the close cooperation between Korea and the United States. And you talked about China's role. Are you referring to the balance between the U.S. -- balance of Korea

between U.S. and China or are you referring to something else? And you have had a third summit meeting at -- summit meeting we just had. You said that you have agreed to bring permanent peace settlement on the Korean peninsula. And what kind of role are you expecting the United States and President Trump to play with regard to settling peace on the Korean peninsula?

MOON (Through Translator): Yes, on bringing balance in our diplomatic approaches this is not about our stance vis-a-vis the United States and China. We are trying to bring a solution to the nuclear problem, DPRK nuclear problem, and to bring permanent peace on the Korean peninsula and more over, we would like to promote peace, stability, and prosperity of the northeast Asian region. So we would like to expand our diplomatic efforts in this regard.

[03:40:02] And that should include our efforts for China as well as ASEAN and Russia and the EU. I believe that we should diversify efforts -- diplomatic efforts so that we can pursue a more balanced approach that that was the intention of making such comment. And to establish permanent peace on the Korean peninsula and to overcome -- resolve the nuclear problem. I think there's role to be played by the United States and China.

And when it comes to the United States, a very strong sanctions and pressure is being put by the United States. The U.S. is leading efforts and I am very sure that substantive results will be realized through such efforts and that China has also faithfully implemented U.N. resolutions to impose sanctions on DPRK.

So we have heightened the pressure and sanctions on DPRK and I think this will contribute to resolving the North Korea nuclear problem. And the international societies' efforts bear fruits, such efforts bear fruit, then we can really make a turn around, then I'm sure that we'll be able to bring North Korea to the table of dialogue. And through such dialogue I am very confident that we can freeze the nuclear program, ultimately dismantle the weapons program of DPRK entirely.

And in this I believe that the cooperation from the U.S. and China is essential. And the -- establishing a permanent peace on the Korean peninsula, I don't think it's the right timing that we talk about this issue now. We should focus on bringing an end to the DPRK provocations and bringing DPRK to the table for dialogue.

This is the impending challenge that we must address now. So we must focus on sanctions and pressure. There is a turnaround, when the turnaround finally comes we should certainly, to make efforts to further consult each other to create the U.S. for setting peace on the Korean peninsula.

TRUMP: I want to just say that President Xi, where we will be tomorrow, China, has been very helpful. We'll find out how helpful soon. But he really has been very, very helpful. So China is out trying very hard to solve the problem with North Korea. We hope that Russia, likewise, will be helpful. We also hope that other countries, and we know for a fact that other countries have already started and we've had great dialogue with many other countries, as you know, and they're really helping a lot.

So if we get China, if we get Russia, and we have some other countries but we want to get most of them, we think that things will happen and they could happen very quickly.

This is a problem, by the way, that should have been done over the last 25 years, not now. This is not the right time to be doing it. But that's what I got. That's what I got. This is a problem that should have been taken care of a long time ago. Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you. United States second and final question will go to Ali Vitali from NBC.

ALI VITALI, NBC: Thank you, Mr. President. You've talked about wanting to put extreme vetting on people trying to come into the United States, but I wonder if you would consider extreme vetting for people trying to buy a gun?

TRUMP: Trying to what?

VITALI: Buy a gun.

TRUMP: Well, you know, you're bringing up a situation that probably shouldn't be discussed too much right now. We could let a little time go by. But it's OK if you feel that that's an appropriate question even though we're in the heart of South Korea. I will certainly answer your question.

If you did what you're suggesting, there would have been no difference three days ago. And you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle in his truck go out and shoot him and hit him and neutralize him.

And I can only say this, if he didn't have a gun, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead. So that's the way I feel about it.

VITALI: And are you considering --

TRUMP: Not going to help.

VITALI: And are you considering any kind of gun control policy going forward?

TRUMP: When you look at this -- the city with the strongest gun laws in our nation is Chicago. And Chicago is a disaster. It's a total disaster. Just remember, if this man didn't have a gun or a rifle, you'd be talking about a much worse situation in the great state of Texas. Thank you.

VITALI: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): The last question will be from the Korean media. [03:45:12] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I have a question for President

Trump. Today you visited the Pyeongtaek military base, as your first stop. And we have allocated $9 trillion won for the building of the military base and there has been a bit of conflict, confrontation with the residents of Pyeongtaek over the construction of the Pyeongtaek base. So to the Koreans a lot of taxpayer money has been put in to build the Pyeongtaek base, a lot of sacrifices have been made to build that base.

So you visited the Pyeongtaek base today and many people talked about free riding of Korea against the security of the United States. So what are your feelings about such talks as you visited the Pyeongtaek base?

And another question I have is that people have concerns about Korea passing, although a lot of that has gone away, there's people still concerned that Korea may be neglected in diplomacy. So what are your views on the Korean passing? Can you say for sure, for certain that Korea passing no longer exists for the Korean people?

TRUMP: Well, I'll start off with your second -- South Korea, Republic of Korea, Korea is very important to me. And there will be no skipping South Korea. I can tell you that right now. Plus I've developed great friendships not only with the president but with others. And we're not going to let them down. And they're not going to let us down because we're doing a lot for them to be honest. We're doing a lot for them.

As far as the base is concerned, I thought that Humphreys was an incredible military installation. I know what it cost and it's a lot of money. We actually spent some of that money and as you know that money was spent for the most part, to protect South Korea, not to protect the United States. But some of that money was spent by us. That being said, that was long before my time. And I'm sure I could have built it for a lot less. That's what I do. Thank you.

MOON (Through Translator): Well, if you don't mind, I'd like to make supplementary remarks.

Today President Trump visited Pyeongtaek military base and his visit shows -- through his visit we were able to show that Korea is making significant contributions -- huge contributions to the Korea's alliance. I hope that has been felt by President Trump and expanded the summit talks he has expressed his appreciation for the construction of the splendid base. And at the Pyeongtaek base, with the Eighth Army Commander as well as the USFK commander we had a briefing by the commander and there was a strong emphasis on their part as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to now conclude the press conference of President Trump and President Moon Jae-in. I would like to extend our appreciation to the members of the diplomatic corps for being here. Thank you.

(LAUGHTER) CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Wrapping up there that joint press conference between the president of the United States and South Korea.

We are here with Josh Rogin. Josh, your headline from this press availability?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the headline is clear. It came in, Donald Trump's response to questions, he said, I think we are making a lot of progress on the North Korea situation. I think we're making a lot of progress.

Now notably President Trump declined to specify exactly what that progress is or what it looks like. He says he doesn't like to talk about the details of the progress that he's seeing. He says, "I do see certain movement." All right. So that's headline number one.

Headline number two is he actually said, "It makes sense for North Korea to come to the table." OK. So this is rhetorical variation for President Trump who often says that there's no point talking to North Korea. That we're just going to put sanctions on them forever and ever and then they're going to give up their nuclear weapons of their own volition. And now he's saying something a little bit different. It makes sense for them to come to the table.

ROMANS: He was asked directly, is it a waste of time, are direct talks a waste of time, and he said, I don't want to say that.

ROGIN: Right. Right. And that's different because usually -- that's what he said last time. People were quoting his own statements that he said it was a waste of time. Now that could be because he's standing next to the South Korean president, who said very clearly we need to get to this dialogue.

Now Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, said something very different. He said in his answer, according to the translation, well, we have to freeze their program and then bring them to the table.

[03:50:02] That's a complicated scheme that the United States is actually opposed to. What the Chinese and the Russians want to do is they want to do what's called a freeze for freeze. They stop testing, we stop exercising, and we all get together and talk. The United States has rejected that.

So it's clear from this press conference that even though President Trump is expressing a willingness to negotiate and saying that he sees movement -- and again I don't see any movement, but he says he sees movement. He won't tell us what it is, that's OK. He doesn't tell us everything. There's still a lot of space. Right?

We saw in that press conference, the American president and the South Korea president are not exactly on the same page, but I would say they're closer than they were before that -- before we heard from them today. And that's interesting. And that's -- you know, we can say a positive development if you want to call it that. If we believe that the president is talking about something real in terms of what he sees and not just sort of trying to claim some sort of progress that he doesn't really think --

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: True that they're now in the same book but that's because the president is standing 35 miles from the border of North Korea.

ROGIN: That's right. Right.

BRIGGS: But for the first part, the success, do you see any success?

ROGIN: No. No, I don't see any success.

BRIGGS: Any progress?

ROGIN: I don't see any progress. No, I don't think anyone sees any progress. Now there's progress in the sanctions. Sanctions are getting tougher. Right? Well, it was very interesting to watch President Trump praise Chinese President Xi Jinping. He said China is trying very hard to solve the problem. That's not a universally held idea even inside the administration. There are a lot of people inside Trump's own team who don't think that China is trying very hard to solve the problem.

But President Trump thinks that, OK, that's fine. So that's some progress. Right? Ramping up the sanctions. That's some progress. Right? If we can get to some sort of, you know, closer position with our allies that's some sort of progress.

The other thing of course that the president said, which is something that he says all the time, which is that, you know, this should have been solved 25 years ago. And that's sort of a rhetorical sort of flourish that he relies on, right, which ignores 25 years of very difficult, and delicate, and complicated diplomacy over three different administrations. Some of it succeeded, some of it failed, none of it solved the problem totally. But it's not like nobody was working on this for the last 25 years.

BRIGGS: No.

ROGIN: Right? There were lots of very smart people working very hard and it had fits and starts and ultimately we are where we are. So that's not necessarily as much of an evolution of thought from President Trump. That's pretty much a standard same old --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Also his criticisms of the U.S.-South Korea trade deal that's, you know, like, five years old or something. He said, you look at the U.S. trade deficit is almost $70 billion, it's electronics, it's cars, it's steel. These are the kind of jobs that the president was elected to protect in the U.S.

Complicated? The president is criticizing right there in his living room, criticizing -- you know, criticizing this trade deal, a trade deal that the South Koreans mostly like.

ROGIN: Well, that's right. Well, two things. First of all, h didn't call it the worst deal ever, which is what he called it when he wasn't standing next to the guy who was the president of the country he has to deal with. So again we see the president, when he gets to Asia, he has a more reserved, more measured diplomatic tone, let's say.

The other thing that was interesting is that President Moon Jae-in said very clearly he's ready to start renegotiating the Korean-U.S. free trade agreement.

ROMANS: Yes.

ROGIN: So in that sense -- that he wants to do it quickly. So in that sense they seemed to be on the same page. I think the Koreans --

BRIGGS: And that's a big win for President Trump.

ROGIN: I think it's the beginning of what could become a win depending on how the negotiations go, of course. But just to get them to the table to acknowledge that they're going to have expedited and reconsideration, renegotiation, that's a big deal. Especially when you look at this region, a region that was counting for years and years on the United States leading the Transpacific Partnership.

That was the idea for 12 countries to present a united front on trade against China, 40 percent of the world economy, and the U.S. gave that up without getting anything in return. So now they're starting to inch back, and we saw the president in Japan, but there is no progress. Here we're seeing a little bit of progress. So we see incremental positive step forward in Trump administration's trade agenda.

BRIGGS: All right. Josh Rogin, of the "Washington Post," sticking around the 4:00 hour. We want to ask you about the country the president mentioned in his remarks and in his Q and A, Russia. He did mention them as hopefully helping contain --

(CROSSTALK)

ROGIN: Not holding my breath.

BRIGGS: -- nuclear threat. Neither are we.

Josh, thanks.

ROMANS: All right, 54 minutes past the hour. Another record day for Wall Street. The Dow, the Nasdaq, the S&P 500 record high. The Dow alone is up 20 percent this year. But have stocks become too hot? I recently asked famed activist investor, Bill Ackman just that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL ACKMAN, ACTIVIST INVESTOR: I think there are certainly specific pockets where valuations are perhaps very high. I think the biggest risks in the markets are politics.

ROMANS: If we're going to do a tax cut?

ACKMAN: Well, I think corporate tax reform will be a driver for the economy and I think also for the stock market.

[03:55:02] If that fails, that will be a negative. I think there's a growing belief that that's going to happen, although I would say it's not particularly reflected in the market prices yet.

I think the bigger risks are kind of geopolitical. North Korea is kind of an obvious one. You know, the markets ignored any terrorist act and I think it's generally been right to. But, you know, God forbid there's some kind of nuclear incident. I think that's going to cause people to really reassess risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Ackman's latest battle is with human resources from ADP. He says the company has become complacent. He is seeking three seats on its board. That shareholder vote is today.

BRIGGS: All right. EARLY START will be right back. We'll go live to South Korea next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: President Trump says he sees certain movement stemming from pressure on North Korea, but all options remain on the table, including options he says he hopes to God to never use.

BRIGGS: And the Air Force acknowledges it did not relay a court- martial conviction of the Texas church gunman. Now the Pentagon is investigating, which allowed the gunman -- this failure which allowed the gunman to continue to acquire weapons. How did they miss this one?

Good morning.