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Remarks Prior to a Meeting With Amir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah of Kuwait and an Exchange With Reporters

September 05, 2018

President Trump. Well, thank you very much, everybody. We have a very special friend of mine, the Amir of Kuwait. And we've had a long relationship and especially over the last year and a half. Things have worked out very well between our countries. We practice large-scale trade together, investment together, and also, I think very importantly, terrorism and the fight against terrorism. And Kuwait has been a great partner.

And we especially respect the Amir. He is something that—really, very special. He's very special in the region, highly respected by everybody. And we appreciate your friendship.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

Amir Sabah. Thank you, Mr. President, and how much, really, I am very happy that—to meet with you for the third time in almost 1 year. This does prove that the bilateral relation between Kuwait and the United States of America, and between us as persons, it is a very good relation—to remain to be a good relation.

There is a mutual trust between both of us. Therefore, thank you, Mr. President, for your warm welcome. This visit comes as a continuation of the profound and strategic relations between our two countries and the significant progress they are witnessing, which we are always interested in consolidating it and promoting it. In this connection, I commend the unwavering commitment of the United States to the security and the stability of our region as it had demonstrated in its leadership of the international coalition that liberated my country.

In this context of pursuing and consolidating our bilateral relations, we shall concentrate our efforts to the fields of trade and increased investment, along with our cooperation in the military, energy, and education fields. I'm pleased to invite United States corporations to participate in development and infrastructure projects in the state of Kuwait and to invest therein according to the Kuwait laws and regulations attractive to investments.

I'm pleased to—we will also discuss means of cooperation to resolve the crisis in the Gulf region and look forward with hope that an end to this crisis will be reached. Our meeting with His Excellency, the President, coincides with the resumption of the discussions between the two parties in the conflict in Yemen led by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Yemen, which we have both called for and has been embraced by Kuwait with a view to put an end to this destructive conflict and its destabilizing effects on the security and the stability of the countries in our region.

We, alongside the entire world, are looking forward to see the discussions yield their desired results. We will also review our achievements under our solid partnership with the international coalition to combat terrorism as well as issues of mutual interest.

Foremost among them is the Palestinian issue and its developments. And the latest political developments in the international and regional arena, in this respect, I find it incumbent upon myself to pay a tribute to the positive role and the great and appreciated force that the United States exerts to achieve peace and stability in our region and in the world.

Thank you, Mr. President. President Trump. Well, thank you very much. And I have to say that Kuwait has made tremendous investments in the United States, and they're buying a lot of equipment and a lot of military equipment in particular, which we encourage. That's jobs for the United States. Nobody makes jets, fighters, and all of the different components better than the United States. We're way advanced over anybody. And that advancement has really been enhanced over the last short period of time. We've given them great incentive. But we appreciate the big purchases that you've been making. And frankly, we're working very hard to bring some stability into the Middle East.

Yemen is a tragic situation. When you look, there's so many tragic areas in the Middle East. It's a very hard—it's a very hard thing. It's a very complex jigsaw puzzle. But we're making big strides.

Iran is a very much different place from when I first took office. Iran is in turmoil right now. They're in total turmoil. When I took office, it was just a question of how long until they took over the entire Middle East. Now they are just worrying about their own survival as a country. And we'll see what happens with Iran. Whether they want to talk or not, that's up to them, not up to me. I will always be available. But it doesn't matter one way or the other. We'll see what happens.

But Iran is a much different place than when I took over the Presidency. I can say that for a lot of countries around the world. The United States is stronger now than ever before. We have the highest stock market that we've ever had. If you invested in the stock market, on average. we're up over 45 percent on the various markets. You have to be quite happy about that. But I view it differently; I view it as jobs. I view it as a strong economy. I view it as record-setting unemployment. We have unemployment that are at the lowest levels that we've ever had. And in particular, with certain groups—African American, Asian, Hispanic—they're the lowest levels in the history of our country.

So we've been doing very well, and we appreciate the big investments and the confidence that you have in the United States.

Thank you very much.

[At this point, Amir Sabah spoke in English as follows.]

Amir Sabah. I wish you good luck.

President Trump. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Supreme Court Nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh's Senate Confirmation Hearings

Q. Mr. President, are you happy with the Kavanaugh hearings, sir?

President Trump. I am. I'm happy with the Kavanaugh hearings. I watched today for a little while. I saw some incredible answers to very complex questions. He's an outstanding intellect. He's an outstanding judge. He was born for the position. I heard, as long as 10 years ago, people were saying he should be a Supreme Court judge. I didn't know him at the time, but I was hearing from a lot of people, friends of mine from Washington and other places, saying that Brett Kavanaugh should be a Supreme Court judge someday. And I'm honored that I gave him the chance.

I've watched his remarks. I've watched his performance. I've watched his statements. And honestly, they've been totally brilliant. I think that the other side is grasping at straws. And really, the other side should embrace him, because you're never going to find better in terms of talent or intellect than what you have in Brett Kavanaugh.

Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward's Forthcoming Book/President's Accomplishments

Q. Is Bob Woodward a liar, sir? Sir, do you believe Bob Woodward is lying, sir? Is Bob Woodward lying?

President Trump. Oh, yes, sure. He's lying. Sure. No, Bob Woodward——

Q. Do you believe Bob Woodward is——

President Trump. The book? You mean on the book?

Q. Yes, sir.

President Trump. The book means nothing. It's a work of fiction. Already, General Mattis has come out very, very strongly. And I think you know General Mattis; he does what he wants to do. He's a very independent guy. He was insulted by the remarks that were attributed to him. And he came out with a very strong statement—I assume you read it; I hope you read it—last night.

General John Kelly, the same exact thing. He saw it. He was insulted by what they said. He's right here. He's insulted by—he couldn't believe what they said. And he put out a very, very strong statement. And many others. And other statements are coming out.

The book is a work of fiction. If you look back at Woodward's past, he had the same problem with other Presidents. He likes to get publicity. He sells some books.

But we have done more as an administration than any other administration in already less than 2 years. It's incredible. We will soon be approaching 2 years.

But there's no administration, probably—and even you folks have generally acknowledged this—that has done more work, when you look at tax cuts, regulation cuts, Supreme Court Justices, the court system generally, and so much more. Even if you look at the health care programs that we're passing and all of the things we've done. We're saving Social Security. The Democrats will destroy social security. We're saving Medicare. The Democrats want to destroy Medicare. You look at what they're doing, they're going to destroy Medicare. And we will save it. We will keep it going. We're making it stronger. We're making Social Security stronger. We're making our whole country stronger. So all you have to do is look at the achievements.

But I was very honored when, without my even knowing about it, statements were put out by General Kelly, by General Mattis, highly respected people by everybody, including yourselves. And the book is a work of fiction. It's a—really, if you look at it, it was put out to interfere, in my opinion, at this time, with the Kavanaugh hearings, which I don't think it's done, because so many people have come out against it. So many who have been written about said, "I never said that." Rudy Giuliani is another one. He's very insulted by the book and what was stated in the book.

So we run—we do run a strong White House. There's no question about it. And we are doing things that nobody else has ever been able to do. And our country is stronger now than it's ever been. And in a very short period of time, $700 billion being spent on the military. Then, next year, 716—$716 billion. We will actually be far stronger than we've ever been. And that's what we need it to be. Thank you all very much.

[Many reporter began speaking at once.]

Kuwait-U.S. Relations

Q. [Inaudible]—the future of the bilateral relations between the two countries?

President Trump. Oh, we have a great relationship. First of all, I have a great personal relationship with the Amir. And Kuwait is a place that I've known for a long time. I have many friends that live in Kuwait—and they live, frankly, in Washington and New York, mostly—that I know, and I've known them for a long time. Very, very fine people.

Our relationship and our bilateral relationship is very, very powerful. Very strong. And they view us as a place where they've done very well, and they like to invest their money in the United States, and we like that.

Canada-U.S. Trade/Mexico-U.S. Trade

Q. [Inaudible]—a trade deal with Canada?

President Trump. So Canada is meeting with us right now, as we speak. We have to make a fair deal with Canada. As you know, they charge tariffs of 300 percent on dairy products, which a lot of people never understood. They have walls up against us doing business in Canada, and yet they come and do business with us, and we can't let that happen.

Look, we have a very strong position, and we are the one that people want to come in and take advantage of. They've been taking advantage of, along with—and I'm not blaming Canada; I love Canada. I love the people of Canada. But they and other countries have been taking advantage of the United States for many years. And this is a President that has stopped it.

We've made a deal with Mexico, and Mexico has been terrific to deal with, including their new President, who I spoke with. And I think we're going to have a very good relationship with Mexico going forward.

And the deal is a much more fair deal between the United States and Mexico, because NAFTA goes down as one of the worst trade deals in the history of our country. It emptied out millions of jobs. It emptied out factories and plants all over the United States. And it was a very unfair deal and a very foolish deal, and in fact, you could say a very stupid deal for the United States to make.

We are straightening out these horrible trade deals. As you know, we had 4.1 GDP. It was just raised to 4.2. Nobody thought that was possible.

When the trade deals are fixed and made fair, GDP will go even higher and potentially much higher than that. And if you go back to election and go back to campaigning, nobody ever would have said that was possible, except me and maybe a few others that believe in me.

Thank you all very much. Thank you.

Iran-U.S. Relations

Q. Would you like to meet Rouhani at the U.N.? Would you like to meet Rouhani at the U.N.? Would you like to meet the President of Iran at the U.N.?

President Trump. It's possible. Anything is possible. Anything is possible. But we'll see.

Syria Q. Mr. President, are you going to get involved in solving the Gulf crisis? It's been a year since you've been——

Q. And also about Syria——

President Trump. Say it? What?

Q. [Inaudible]—ask you about Syria.

President Trump. What? North Korea?

Q. No, no, no. Gulf crisis. Syria. When President Asad challenges you, if he——

President Trump. Did you say Syria?

Q. Yes, if he attacks Idlib.

President Trump. I think it's a very sad situation in Idlib and the Province—what's going on there. It's being surrounded, and they feel they have 35,000 of their enemy there. And yet you have 3 million people living there.

And I just tell you that they will, hopefully, be very, very judicious and careful, because the world is watching. That cannot be a slaughter. If it's a slaughter, the world is going to get very, very angry——

Q. So you're not going to allow it to happen.

President Trump. ——and the United States is going to get very angry too. Okay?


Q. So you're not going to allow it to happen.

President Trump. I am watching that very closely. So it's surrounded right now—the Province—and it's surrounded by a lot of people with a lot of weapons. And these are innocent people. You have 3 million, at least, innocent people there. And you have to be very, very careful. And the world is watching, and the United States is watching very closely.

Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

President Bashar al-Asad of Syria/Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward's Forthcoming Book

Q. [Inaudible]—the assassination of President Asad, as Woodward says in his book?

President Trump. What?

Q. Did you suggest the assassination of President Asad?

President Trump. Not at all. No, the book is fiction. I heard somewhere where they said the assassination of President Asad by the United States. Never even discussed. The book is total fiction, just like he wrote in the past about other Presidents. You look at what he said about President Bush, what he said about President Obama. Big, scandalous thing. Big—it lasts for about a day.

No, that was never even contemplated, nor would it be contemplated. And it should not have been written about in the book. It's just more fiction. The book is total fiction. Okay?

Q. Will you sue, sir?

President Trump. Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:53 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis; White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly; Rudolph W. Giuliani, personal attorney to the President; and President-elect Andres Manuel López Obrador of Mexico. Amir Sabah referred to U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths; and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres. Amir Sabah spoke in Arabic, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks Prior to a Meeting With Amir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah of Kuwait and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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