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Remarks Prior to a Meeting With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and an Exchange With Reporters in Biarritz, France

August 25, 2019

President Trump. Thank you very much. It's a great honor to be here. We're having some very good discussions, maybe even great discussions. And I will say that our relationship with Prime Minister Abe and Japan has been, I think, the best it's ever been. I don't know, I'll let you speak to that. But I think it's the best it's ever been.

Go ahead.

[At this point, an interpreter translated President Trump's remarks into Japanese. The President then continued as follows.]

We're discussing trade. We're doing a lot of trade together, a lot of military trade, actually, which is a big component. We're also talking, obviously, about North Korea. And those discussions are going very well. And we're discussing lots of other things. And the relationship between us, but also the relationship with us and the other countries, has really been—of the G-7—has really been outstanding.

From the moment we got here, we've been treated beautifully. I think I speak for Shinzo and myself. We've been treated beautifully. And I want to congratulate—and I have to say "thus far," because we're probably halfway through. But thus far, this has been really a great G-7, and I want to congratulate France and your President because they have really done a great job.

Thank you.

Prime Minister Abe. At the outset, I would like to congratulate you on the birth of your 10th grandchild.

President Trump. Thank you. [Laughter]

Prime Minister Abe. And speaking of our intensive diplomatic engagement, as shown by my own visit to Washington, DC, back in April, followed by you and Madam First Lady's state visit to Japan in the month of May as the very first state guests under the new era called Reiwa, and also followed by our meeting on the margins of G-20 Osaka summit.

So, as shown by these meetings, we have been conducting very frequent exchange of opinions, as well as visits. And looking back at the history of Japan-U.S. relations, we've never seen this frequent level of visits between the two leaders as we have seen at this moment.

So I think it is fair to say that, we as the leaders of Japan and the United States, now enjoy the robust relationship of trust more so than ever, and same can be said vis-à-vis the status of the Japan-U.S. relations in general.

And thanks to your tremendous support for me as a chair of the G-20 Osaka summit, we could send out a really powerful message toward addressing various global challenges. And just as importantly, I am ready to work very closely with you, Donald, so as to bring this year's G-7 summit to a successful conclusion.

So, on this occasion, I certainly look forward to discuss with you specific ways to deepen our alliance between the two countries and also the regional situations, including North Korea as well as Iran. And of course, we look forward to discussing bilateral trade as well as the economic relationship. And I certainly hope to have a very productive discussion with you. President Trump. Well, thank you. And I want to also congratulate the great Matsuyama. You know who Matsuyama is? [Laughter] He's a great golfer that we played with, and we had a lot of fun.

And Shinzo is a very good golfer. [Laughter] And we have a lot of fun playing golf together. And we played with Ernie Els here, and Shinzo reciprocated with a great player, Matsuyama. And last week, in a big tournament—which is a one of the very biggest tournaments—he came in third, and he shot a 62 or 63 in the final round, which is not bad. Right? Which is not bad. So he's a great young man, and he's a great golfer. And please congratulate him for me. Thank you.


Japan-U.S. Trade Negotiations

Q. Mr. President, do you have a trade deal with Japan? Have you agreed on a trade deal?

President Trump. We're working on one, and we're fairly close. And I don't know as to, Bob Lighthizer, what's happening. Could you give us a status report?

U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer. Well, we're very close, and we've been working intensively. And hopefully, as a result of this meeting, we'll be able to come to an agreement on core principles.

President Trump. It will be a very big deal. It's a major deal with Japan. If it gets done, we'll possibly know by the end of this meeting.


Q. Mr. President, did you sign off on a statement to Iran—a message to Iran—that President Macron says he's going to deliver on behalf of all the G-7 countries?

President Trump. No, I haven't discussed that. No.

Q. He's——

President Trump. No, I haven't.

Iran/Japan-Iran Relations

Q. Do you support President Macron's outreach to Iranian authorities?

President Trump. Sure. And I also support Prime Minister Abe's outreach, because he's also speaking to Iran, and they have a very good relationship, from what I understand. But Iran is no longer the same country it was—as it was 2½ years ago. But we'll do our own outreach. But you know, I can't stop people from talking. If they want to talk, they can talk.

France-U.S. Relations/Media Coverage of Group of Seven (G-7) Meetings

Q. What are some of the issues you all talked about at dinner last night?

President Trump. Why don't you tell me what we spoke about last night? [Laughter] Go ahead and tell me.

Q. I'm asking you, sir.

President Trump. Because there was a lot of inaccurate reporting. We had a really good dinner last night.

And I had a fantastic lunch with the President of France yesterday. The best—frankly, it was—and I told him, and I was totally honest—probably an hour and a half. Many of you saw it. I think it was the best hour and a half I've ever spent with him, President Macron. It was a perfect period of time. And yet I picked up stories, and I read like it was the opposite. It was really wasn't. I mean, it doesn't matter; you can write whatever you want to write. But it was false reporting.

We had a very, very good lunch, and we had a very, very good dinner last night. Everybody was at the dinner. And I think it was really good. We discussed Iran. We discussed trade. We discussed China. We discussed many things. But it was a very, very good—a very good dinner.

Russia/Group of Seven (G-7) Nations

Q. Mr. President, you said you discussed Russia, and you said earlier it was a "lively" discussion. Do you feel that the other members of the G-7 would encourage Russia to join again, the way you are?

President Trump. I think that's a work in progress. We have a number of people that would like to see Russia back. I think it would be—I think it would be advantageous to many things in the world. I think it would be a positive. Other people agree with me. And it's something that we're discussing.

I don't know that we'll make a decision one way or the other, but we did have a discussion about Russia last night, as to whether or not we want to invite them back. I think it's advantageous. I think it's a positive. Other people agree with me, and some people don't necessarily agree.

Q. How do you expect to overcome those differences?

President Trump. Well, I don't think we're going to—maybe we won't. Maybe we'll just leave it the way it is.

Russia/Group of Seven (G-7) Nations

Q. Can you say who were some of those who agreed with you on inviting Russia back?

President Trump. I could, but I don't think it's necessary. Some of the people that I was surprised—I was actually surprised at a couple of them, because I didn't think they had a good relationship, and it was good enough that they said, "Yes, we'd like to have them back."

It's ongoing discussion. No decision——

Q. Are you still concerned——

President Trump. No decision was made. We didn't do a vote or anything. Just discussion.

North Korea

Q. Are you concerned at all about North Korea conducting more tests?

President Trump. I'm not happy about it. But again, he's not in violation of an agreement. We speak. I received a very nice letter from him last week. We speak. He was upset that South Korea was doing the "war games," as you call them. I don't think they were necessary either, if you want to know the truth.

And I said to my people: "You can have them or not. I would recommend against them, but I'm going to let you do exactly what you want to do." I said that to all of my people. I said: "I don't want to interfere, because I think if you want to do them, you can do them, if you think it's necessary. But I think it's a total waste of money." And they did a modified version of them.

John Bolton, would you say that's correct? It's a very-much——

National Security Adviser John R. Bolton. Yes, very much. President Trump. ——modified version. But I think it was unnecessary to do, frankly.

North Korea

Q. Any update on another meeting with North Korea?

President Trump. Probably have one. Yes. Probably. But—so I'm not—I'm not liking short range, because short range is Shinzo's—you know, it's really his territory. I mean, I'd like to ask, Shinzo, how do you feel about North Korea and the testing of short-range missiles? He's not thrilled. [Laughter]

Prime Minister Abe. So our position is very clear: that the launch of short-range ballistic missiles by North Korea clearly violates the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. So, in that sense, it was extremely regrettable for us to experience another round of the launch of the short-range ballistic missiles by North Korea in recent days.

Q. Mr. Prime Minister——

President Trump. And I can understand how the Prime Minister of Japan feels. I mean, I can. It's different. But, I mean, I can understand that fully.

Q. Mr. Prime Minister, would you like President Trump to come further to your position on this?

Prime Minister Abe. As we have done before, I would like to make sure that we—meaning, myself and President Trump—will always stay on the same page when it comes to North Korea.

And also, I would like to underscore that I fully support the U.S.-North Korea process 100 percent.

Japan-U.S. Relations

Q. But are you on the same page, if you see these things so differently? I mean, they could——

President Trump. I think, ultimately, we're always on the same page. As long as he's Prime Minister and as long as I'm President, I think we're always on the same page.

Q. But you don't——

North Korea

Q. Sorry, but, Mr. President, you don't think that the short-term—or the short missile launches are——

President Trump. No, because I never——

Q. ——are a violation of U.N. resolutions?

President Trump. ——because I never discussed that with him personally. I mean, you're talking about personal; I never discussed that with him. I discussed long-range ballistic, and that, he cannot do. And he hasn't been doing it. And he hasn't been doing nuclear testing. He has done short-range, much more standard missiles. A lot of people are testing those missiles, not just him. A lot of people are testing those missiles. We're in the world of missiles, folks, whether you like it or not.

I have confidence that, in the end, Kim Jong Un—who I've gotten to know very well—will do the right thing. I feel that he will do the right thing. I think it's to his advantage to do the right thing. I think North Korea has tremendous potential as a country, economically. I think it's got—I think, maybe, there's no country that you could talk of in terms of emerging that has the potential that North Korea has. I think he understands that better than anybody. And I think, in the end, he will do the right thing.

We'll see. Maybe not, but maybe. But I think he'll do the right thing. We'll see what happens.

Thank you all very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:32 a.m. at the Centre de Congrès Bellevue Convention and Exhibition Center. In his remarks, the President referred to Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong Un of North Korea. Prime Minister Abe referred to Carolina D. Trump, daughter of the President's son Eric and daughter-in-law Lara. Prime Minister Abe spoke in Japanese, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks Prior to a Meeting With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and an Exchange With Reporters in Biarritz, France Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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