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Remarks Prior to a Restricted Bilateral Meeting With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and an Exchange With Reporters in Palm Beach, Florida

April 17, 2018

President Trump. Thank you all for being here. I just want to say that your representatives look right out of a movie. You're absolutely perfect. So I think that's very nice. I'm very impressed. It's great to have both of our representatives with us.

We're talking North Korea. We're talking military. We're talking trade. A lot of progress has already been made. And as you know, we've been discussing these things for weeks and even months prior to this meeting, which, truly, we'll call a summit. And we've made a lot of progress.

Shinzo and I have developed a very close relationship. We speak all the time. And our nations, I think, have never been closer than they are right now. So, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much for being here.

Prime Minister Abe. So, prior to the small group discussion at the one-on-one session, we already had a very in-depth discussion focusing on the issue of North Korea and also the economic issues. And on those two points, we actually successfully forged a mutual understanding. So I'm very happy to see the outcome of our one-on-one discussion.

On the issue of North Korea, for the first time in the history of the world, there will be this summit meeting between the United States and North Korea. And also, prior to the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting, the summit meeting between South and North Korea is being planned to take place. And since the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, we have observed major change in terms of the North Korea's behavior. And background of this change is Donald's unwavering conviction, as well as a determination that you demonstrated in addressing the issue of North Korea. So your stance made it possible to achieve this major change.

So you have made it very clear that all options are on the table. And along with this line, you have demonstrated the maximization of the pressure against North Korea. As a matter of fact, the United States have the overwhelming military power in the world. And by using this strength, you have been effectively applying the overwhelming level of pressure against North Korea. And this, actually, successfully led to the outcome that we have already observed.

So once again, if I may reiterate, Donald, you've demonstrated your unwavering determination in addressing the challenge of North Korea. And I'd like to take this opportunity to express and pay my tribute to your leadership.

And also, at the planned U.S.-North Korea summit meeting, which will be held for the first time, my hope is that there will be a tangible progress toward resolving the outstanding issues of concern, including nuclear issues, missile issues, as well as the abductions issue, which is the Japanese top-priority issue. So this will be the historic meeting, and I certainly hope that there will be progress on these fronts.

And also, to achieve such progress, I would like to have a very serious and also thorough discussion with you today. President Trump. Thank you very much. I greatly appreciate that, Shinzo. And I will say that the North Korea problem has been with us for many years. It's something that should have been taken care of years ago, decades ago. It's at a point now where we don't really have a choice. It must be taken care of one way or the other.

I look forward to meeting with Kim Jong Un. And hopefully, that will be a success. And maybe it will be, and maybe it won't be. We don't know. But we'll see what happens. But I can say this: They do respect us. We are respectful of them. And we're going to see what happens.

We will bring up the abductees. We'll bring up many different things. I think it's a time for talking; it's a time for solving problems. I know that's been a very big factor for you.

South Korea's meetings with North Korea are very much in coordination with us. We're in consultation with them constantly. Our relationship with South Korea is a very good one. In fact, we're in the midst of negotiating a new and better, perhaps for both sides, trade deal. Because right now it's an unfair deal, frankly, to the United States. But what else is new? All of them are. But we are going to finalize a new deal fairly soon. We probably could have it done already if I wanted to have it done. But we are in very close communication and coordination with South Korea with their upcoming meetings and even their current talks with North Korea.

And as I said before, the war has never ended. If we can do something even before the meeting, the big planned meeting, that would be fine. But we're dealing very closely with South Korea. They're the ones that came and told us about the original meeting that they want to meet with me, they want to meet with the United States, specifically. We have not picked a site yet, but we've picked five sites where it's potentially going to be. We'll let you know fairly soon. And let's see what happens. We'll either have a very good meeting, or we won't have a good meeting. And maybe we won't even have a meeting at all depending on what's going in. But I think that there's a great chance to solve a world problem. This is not a problem for the United States. It's not a problem for Japan or any other country. It's a problem for the world.

We've also started talking to North Korea directly. We have had direct talks at very high levels—extremely high levels—with North Korea. And I really believe there's a lot of good will. A lot of good things are happening. We'll see what happens. As I always say, we'll see what happens. Because ultimately, it's the end result that counts, not the fact that we're thinking about having a meeting or having a meeting.

And I just want to conclude by thanking President Xi of China. He's been incredibly generous. They have never been this way with the United States. I think they have more respect for us, perhaps our leadership, but for us than they've ever had before. But President Xi has been very strong on the border, much stronger than anyone thought they would be. I'd like him to be stronger on the border. But he has been at a level that nobody ever expected. The goods coming into North Korea have been cut down very substantially. As you know, 93 percent of the goods coming into North Korea come through China, come through the border.

So I want to thank President Xi, a man we have—I just have a great relationship with. A very special person to me. And we are also negotiating very tough trade deals with China. We hope that's going to work out. But he has been very, very generous in terms of what we're doing with North Korea, and I would like to thank him.

Prime Minister Abe. So, in your remarks, I understand, as you specifically mentioned, that you are going to take up the issue of the abductions issue in the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit meeting. And this reflects your deep understanding of how Japan cares about this abductions issue. And I am very grateful for your commitment. President Trump. Good. You have my commitment. Thank you.

Prime Minister Abe. Thank you very much.

President Trump's Upcoming Meeting With Chairman of the Korean Worker's Party Kim Jong Un of North Korea

Q. Sir, have you directed—[inaudible]? Are any of the sites in the U.S.? Any in the U.S.?

President Trump. No.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:54 p.m. at the Mar-a-Lago Club. Prime Minister Abe spoke in Japanese, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. A portion of these remarks could not be verified because the audio was incomplete.

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

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