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Trump strikes optimistic tone on North Korea, thanks Japan’s Abe for his role

President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met reporters at Mar-a-Lago Wednesday evening, where Trump said that he would be doing everything possible to make his anticipated meeting with the leader of North Korea "a worldwide success." Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the president’s remarks and the relationship between Trump and Abe.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    A short time ago, the president and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met reporters at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump's Florida estate.

    The president spoke again of the anticipated summit later this spring with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, and of the prime minister's role in bring North Korea closer to the bargaining table.

  • President Donald Trump:

    During our visit to Asia in November, we had tremendous success enlisting support for our campaign of maximum pressure on the North Korean regime.

    As you know, I will be meeting with Kim Jong-un in the coming weeks to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Hopefully, that meeting will be a great success, and we're looking forward to it.

    It would be a tremendous thing for North Korea and a tremendous thing for the world. So, we will be doing everything possible to make it a worldwide success, not just for the United States or South Korea or North Korea or Japan, but for the entire world.

    We hope to see the day when the whole Korean Peninsula can live together in safety, prosperity, and peace. This is the destiny of the Korean people, who deserve and have gone through so much over the years.

    We hope it all works out, and we will be trying very hard.

    I want to thank the prime minister for his insight and support over the past year, as we have pursued the dream of a peaceful, nuclear-free Korea.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That's President Trump speaking just a short time ago.

    So now we're joined by our White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor.

    Yamiche, the president referring to this meeting a few weeks ago between CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the North Korean leader. What are we learning about that? And what do we know about the meetings the president is having right now with the Japanese prime minister?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the president has characterized the meeting that Mike Pompeo had with Kim Jong-un as something that was very productive. He said that the meeting went smoothly. He tweeted that out this morning.

    And he said that he is now looking forward to some sort of diplomacy with North Korea. The prime minister of Japan really made it very clear that one of his top priorities with meeting with this president, with meeting with President Trump, is that he wanted to work on the denuclearization of North Korea. He said it was his top priority. That's what he wanted to talk about.

    And it seems here that President Trump is taking a different tone. Before, we remember the back-and-forth between him and the leader of North Korea, where they were name-calling. In this case, it seems as though things are getting a little bit under way and they're going more smoothly.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, there has been some reporting about whether the Japanese were entirely on board with what's going on.

    What are we learning about the conversations between President Trump and the Japanese prime minister in terms of the relationship between the two leaders, the countries?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the relationship is one that is both — they both have this — they really want the goal to have North Korea be denuclearized. But they also have this idea of trade.

    While President Trump has said he wants to work with Japanese — with Japan, and the prime minister has really tried to flatter the president by saying that he's taking a very leading voice on North Korea, there's also this idea that President Trump thinks that the trade that we have with Japan right now is not fair, and he wants to of Japan to pay more. He wants Japan to be buying more military planes.

    He said that in his speech in the press conference today. So there's this idea that he really wants Japan to beef up what they're doing in terms of buying stuff from the U.S. And that's where things could get a little shaky.

    But it seems as though right now — they spent all day playing golf. So, it seems as though they're really trying to get under way, really trying to get to know each other, and things seem to be going smoothly.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, it's fascinating to watch, all taking place at Mar-a-Lago.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:


  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yamiche Alcindor, thank you very much.

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