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The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway

January 10, 2018

President Trump. Thank you very much. Good afternoon. I'm honored to welcome Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway to the White House. Madam Prime Minister, it's been a pleasure to host you today. We had some very interesting discussions, as we strengthen the wonderful friendship between our two countries. Norwegians and Americans have so much in common. We're nations made up of strong, pioneering, and adventurous people, to say the least.

Over a thousand years ago, daring voyagers of Norwegian descent, such as Erik the Red, braved treacherous seas in courageous missions of exploration. Centuries later, during the Second World War, brave Norwegians escaped occupied Norway to fight alongside of Americans and the Allies, including on the beaches of Normandy in 1944. Our friendship builds on this proud and noble history and is rooted in our commitment to confront the problems of today with that same confidence and that same determination, and I think it might even be greater determination.

We've just concluded a series of discussions on how we can work together to promote a future of security and world prosperity and also a great future for our respective countries working together.

The Prime Minister and I are both committed to strengthening the NATO alliance. Norway has made contributions to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan—where we are doing very well; it's been turned around—as well as to NATO and NATO's enhanced forward presence in Poland and the Baltic States. I want to thank the Prime Minister and the Norwegian people for their participation in these efforts.

I encourage Norway to follow through on its commitment to meet the 2 percent of GDP defense spending obligation so that together we can confront the full range of threats facing our nations. And I believe Norway will get there quite soon.

Norway is also a vital and valued member of the campaign to defeat ISIS. Because of us, ISIS has now lost almost 100 percent of the territory it previously held not so long ago in Iraq and in Syria. We're grateful for Norway's civilian assistance efforts and generous humanitarian aid to the region. They've been out there and really doing an incredible job.

I'm also pleased to share that the economic ties between our two countries are robust and growing. The United States currently has a trade surplus, which is shocking. [Laughter] Can you believe I'm saying we have a surplus? There aren't too many. You're going to have to go back and check your people. [Laughter] But we're getting more and more surpluses all over the world, I will say that. I told that to the Prime Minister.

But our two countries are robust and growing. The United States currently has a large contingent of products that we sell and—back and forth with Norway, and one of the big products, of course, is our military equipment. I want to thank the people of Norway for their commitment to fair and reciprocal trade, a word that you're going to hear more and more coming from this administration, and it should have come from other administrations before me. Reciprocal trade, which benefits us all. Free nations are stronger when the trade is fair. And trade has not been overly fair with the United States, but we've had that great relationship with Norway. But remember the word "reciprocal."

In November, we started delivering the first F-52s and F-35 fighter jets. We have a total of 52, and they've delivered a number of them already, a little ahead of schedule. It's a $10 billion order.

Norway also invests about one-third of its sovereign wealth fund in American businesses, supporting hundreds of thousands of American jobs. They're very big investors in our stock market, and therefore, the Prime Minister thanked me very much, because their market is—you have done very well with your investments in the United States. Right?

Prime Minister Solberg. Yes.

President Trump. Thank you. Norway's commitment to mutually beneficial commerce is a model for other nations. And it really is. It's an amazing country. I'll look forward to forging an even stronger economic relationship between the United States and Norway, growing this record of success with even more investment and more jobs and more job creation.

We're also proud of our increasing cooperation on health and health security and also on biodefense, very important to both countries. I commend Prime Minister Solberg's efforts to promote vaccine development and disease prevention. Together, we can save and improve many, many lives. We're working very hard and, in some cases, together, on cures to many ailments.

Prime Minister Solberg, I want to thank you again for joining us at the White House. For decades, Norwegians and Americans have stood side by side against common threats to our freedom, our security, and to our values. Together, we have fought against fascism and communism and terrorism, and we face threats always together. We're partners.

Our partnership has advanced peace, cooperation, and respect for human dignity all around the world. Today, we remain united in our efforts to confront shared challenges, to seize new opportunities, and to build a bright and beautiful future for our countries, our people, our children. And I think we're doing very well working together, and we have a newfound friendship.

So I want to thank you, and God bless you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Prime Minister Solberg. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you for your generous welcome. It's a great honor to be here at the White House. The relationship between our two countries is strong, and it has very deep roots.

There are millions of U.S. citizens who proudly call themselves Norwegian Americans, and our Norwegian constitution—the second oldest in the world that is still in force—was inspired by American ideals. And we have a long and continuous history of serving shoulder to shoulder on battlefields around the world.

The U.S. remains our most important ally, a major trade partner, and a close friend. Today we have discussed issues of importance for our relationship: how we can keep our countries and citizens safe; how we can grow our economies; how we can further cooperation—the cooperation in areas of mutual interests. And I have assured President Trump that Norway remains an ally and a friend that you can count on in the future.

President Trump. Thank you. Thank you. Prime Minister Solberg. We are already number two in NATO after the U.S., in terms of defense spending per capita, and we are making significant investments to further strengthen our defense. And this includes, as the President said, some big buys from American industry: P-8 maritime patrol aircraft from Boeing; 52 F-35 combat aircraft from Lockheed-Martin, our largest, single, public investment ever in Norway. But also, we are buying new submarines and investments in intelligence capabilities and army assets, and—which is important also for our job in the northern parts.

The American economy is doing well, and our economic relations are flourishing, and that's to the benefit of both countries. As we discussed in our meeting, for a small country like Norway, it's important for our ability to trade and to invest across borders that we have fair trade and that we have multilateral trade systems also. And we think it's important for our future.

Norwegian investments and Norwegian companies support close to half a million jobs of—in the United States. And through our government pension funds, substantial revenues from our oil sectors are being investment—invested in U.S. assets.

The U.S. has an impressive business community, and I have commended the leading role it is playing also in the transformation to a green economy, for example, by the fact that one of the big areas we are now importing in Norway is electrical cars from Tesla.

And Norway is combating climate change. It's an important issue for us, and we are committed to the Paris Agreement, where it leads to businesses, and it leads to American businesses also selling cars in Norway. At the same time, the green economy is an area where we see tremendous economic and business opportunities in the future.

And finally, I think it's important to say that we also are discussing some of the big difficult issues, for example, the development of—in Afghanistan, where I think and hope that we can find new future. It's important that we are all working together to find solutions both in North Korea, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. And since September 11, 2001, Norway has contributed to a range of missions and operations, including the fight against ISIS.

And I have assured the President that we remain unwavering in our commitment to the fight against terrorism all over the world. So, Mr. President, I am looking forward to future cooperation, and thank you for a very fruitful meeting.

President Trump. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Prime Minister Solberg. Thank you.

President Trump. Okay, some questions. How about Sarah Westwood? Where is Sarah? Sarah, thank you. Washington Examiner.

Immigration Reform Legislation/Border Security/Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program

Q. Yes. Thank you, Mr. President. Yesterday, in a meeting with lawmakers, you said that you would be open to signing just about any immigration deal that that bipartisan group of lawmakers sent to you.

President Trump. That's right.

Q. Would you be willing to sign an immigration deal that ultimately does not include funding for the border wall? Or would that be a redline for you? President Trump. No. No.

Q. No?

President Trump. No. It's got to include the wall. We need the wall for security. We need the wall for safety. We need the wall for stopping the drugs from pouring in. I would imagine that the people in the room, both Democrat and Republican, I really believe they're going to come up with a solution to the DACA problem—which has been going on for a long time—and maybe, beyond that, immigration as a whole.

But any solution has to include the wall, because without the wall, it all doesn't work. You could look at other instances. Look at what happened in Israel. They put up the wall; they solved the—a very major problem.

We need the wall. We have to have the wall for security purposes. Security is number one. And so the answer is, have to have the wall. Thank you.

And please.

Q. Yes.

Prime Minister Solberg. Can I call on—[inaudible]—from the Norwegian Broadcasting.

U.S. Military Strength/North Korea

Q. Mr. President, Prime Minister, recently, an American general, Robert Neller, told his marines based in Norway, "There's a war coming"—a "big-ass fight." Mr. President, how imminent is that big war? And where will it take place?

President Trump. When you say "the big war," you're saying what? Say it.

Q. It was an American general, Robert Neller. He visited a Norwegian——

President Trump. Right.

Q. ——the American marines based in Norway, and he said, "There is a war coming"—a "big-ass fight." When will that war come and where?

President Trump. Well, maybe he knows something that I don't know, okay? [Laughter] I would say this——

Q. So there is no war coming?

President Trump. I would say this: We have a very, very powerful military. We're getting more powerful by the month, by the day. We're ordering a lot of the equipment that you're ordering. We're ordering it, but in larger amounts, to put it mildly. We are building up our military to a point that we've never been before. We're also—we were very much weakened over the last long period of time, but not with me.

No, I don't expect that. I think we're going to have—because of strength—peace through strength. I think we're going to have a long period of peace. I hope we do. We have certainly problems with North Korea, but a lot of good talks are going on right now, a lot of good energy. I see a lot of good energy. I like it very much, what I'm seeing.

I just spoke this morning with the—as you know, with the President—President Moon of South Korea. He had some really great meetings. His representatives had a great, great meeting. And I had some very good feedback from that. So hopefully, a lot of good things are going to work out. No, I think that we will have peace through strength. Our military will be stronger than it ever was in a very short period of time. And that's my opinion. That's not the general's opinion, but I think my opinion counts more right now. [Laughter] Thank you.

Prime Minister Solberg. Maybe I can just add that the reason why we are so happy that we have U.S. marines training in Norway is that that's part of the deterrence strategy that makes sure that we don't have a war in the future.

President Trump. Yes. And, Sarah [Sarah Westwood, Washington Examiner], did you have a question? You were about to ask a question? Did you have a question for the Prime Minister?

Investigation Into Russia's Efforts To Interfere in the 2016 Presidential Election

Q. I did. Yes, thank you. Madam Prime Minister, President Trump has said that the investigation into Russian collusion makes our country "look very bad." And he said this morning that "the world is laughing" at our stupidity. So my question to you is, are you laughing at the Russia investigation?

Prime Minister Solberg. I think that it's up to every political system in countries to scrutinize and discuss their own political agenda in their countries. And I respect that very much and that this is an issue for American politics.

I'd just like to say that it has impacted also in Europe. I think all European countries have—who have had elections this year has been looking into, will there be any type of tampering of others? We concluded after our own election that we could not find any proof of any that tried to put any emphasis on that from countries outside Norway. I think it was a very Norwegian election with Norwegian participants.

President Trump. Well, I will say this: There is collusion, but it's really with the Democrats and the Russians, far more than it is with the Republicans and the Russians. So the witch hunt continues.

John [John Roberts, Fox News], go ahead.

Investigation Into Russia's Efforts To Interfere in the 2016 Presidential Election/2016 Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton

Q. Thank you, Mr. President. I also have a question for the Prime Minister, but if I could address the President first.

Sarah brought up the Russia investigation. Your legal team, sources have told us, believes that, in the next few weeks, the Special Counsel Robert Mueller will ask for some sort of an interview with you, your legal team believes, as part of wrapping up his investigation. Are you open to meeting with him? Would you be willing to meet with him without condition? Or would you demand that a strict set of parameters be placed around any encounter between you and the Special Counsel?

President Trump. Well, again, John, there has been no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians, or Trump and Russians. No collusion. When I watch you interviewing all the people leaving their committees—I mean, the Democrats are all running for office, and they're trying to say this, that. But bottom line, they all say there's no collusion. And there is no collusion.

And when you talk about interviews, Hillary Clinton had an interview where she wasn't sworn in, she wasn't given the oath, they didn't take notes, they didn't record, and it was done on the Fourth of July weekend. That's perhaps ridiculous, and a lot of people looked upon that as being a very serious breach. And it really was.

But again, I'll speak to attorneys. I can only say this: There was absolutely no collusion. Everybody knows it. Every committee—I've been in office now for 11 months. For 11 months, they've had this phony cloud over this administration, over our Government. And it has hurt our Government. It does hurt our Government.

It's a Democrat hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing an election that, frankly, the Democrats should have won because they have such a tremendous advantage in the electoral college. So it was brought up for that reason. But it has been determined that there is no collusion and by virtually everybody. So we'll see what happens.

Q. But again, would you be open to a——

President Trump. We'll see what happens.

Q. All right.

President Trump. I mean, certainly, I'll see what happens. But when they have no collusion, and nobody has found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that you'd even have an interview.

Russia-U.S. Relations/U.S. Foreign Policy

Q. And, Madam Prime Minister, Norway shares a small, but strategic, border with Russia. President Trump's position has been, it's better to try to work with Vladimir Putin, if possible, than to work against him. Where do you come down on that idea—better to work with Putin than to not work with him?

Prime Minister Solberg. Well, I think Russia is an important player in the international world, and I don't think you cannot work with and talk to. But on the other hand, it's important to say that we have aligned with all the sanctions, as the European Union has done, and as a member connected both in NATO and interconnected to that. And we have also suffered some economic difficulties in some areas in Norway based on those sanctions.

But on the other hand, we have a very good relationship with Russia over that border area where we do have very much free movement of people, especially so on people moving to and fro. We have very large cooperation on sustainable fisheries in this area; it's the biggest cod area in the world, but a sustainable resource, and we do patrol it, we do work together. So we think it's important to do two things at the same time.

Yes, the international law is firm and clear. There was a break of that through the annexation of Crimea and the situation in Ukraine, and we do stand by all of our allies with that. But at the same time, as a neighboring country, we do day-to-day work on things that we have to solve for the people and the economic activity that is in that area, and—which is a fragile area for the whole world.

President Trump. Just to add to the answer, I think it is much better to work with Russia. It's very much better, having to do with North Korea, where we currently have a problem that should have never been my problem; this should have been a problem solved many years ago when it was much less dangerous. But it was given to me, along with a big mess of other things.

But I will say this: I am for massive oil and gas and everything else and a lot of energy. Putin can't love that. I am for the strongest military that the United States ever had. Putin can't love that. But Hillary was not for a strong military. And Hillary, my opponent, was for windmills, and she was for other types of energy that don't have the same capacities, at this moment, certainly.

So I just want to say that it's a lot better to work with other countries. We're working with China on North Korea. We're working with various other countries, and I think we're doing very well. We had a great talk—as you know, and as you reported—we had a great talk this morning with President Moon, and I think that a lot of good things are happening. We're going to see what happens.

But working with other countries, whether it's Russia or China or India or any of the countries that surround this world and encompass this world, that's a good thing, John; that's not a bad thing. That's very good thing, okay?

Okay, go ahead.

Prime Minister Solberg. Christina Pletten from Aftenposten.

Paris Agreement on Climate Change/Hydropower in Norway

Q. Mr. President, Prime Minister, Norway strongly supports the Paris Agreement and have expressed regret that you have decided to leave it. What could persuade you to remain? And what kind of common ground did you find in your talks today on this topic?

President Trump. Well, it wasn't a major topic, I must tell you. We talked about other things, including mostly trade. But I will say that the Paris Agreement, as drawn and as we signed, was very unfair to the United States. It put great penalties on us. It made it very difficult for us to deal, in terms of business. It took away a lot of our asset values.

We are a country rich in gas and coal and oil and lots of other things, and there was a tremendous penalty for using it. It hurt our businesses. According to some estimates, we would have had to close businesses in order to qualify by 2025. Whereas, as an example, China, by 2030—they don't kick in until 2030. Russia, someplace in the mid-1990s—that was their standard, and that was never a good standard, because that was a dirty standard for the environment.

It treated the United States very unfairly, and frankly, it's an agreement that I have no problem with, but I had a problem with the agreement that they signed, because as usual, they made a bad deal.

So we could conceivably go back in, but I say this: We are very strong on the environment. I feel very strongly about the environment. Our EPA and our EPA commissioners are very, very powerful in the sense that they want to have clean water, clean air, but we also want businesses that can compete. And the Paris accord really would have taken away our competitive edge. And we're not going to let that happen. I'm not going to let it happen.

Prime Minister Solberg. And if I just might add that there are business opportunities in this——

President Trump. It's true.

Prime Minister Solberg. ——as we talked about during this—because we have strict regulations on—to reach our Paris targets. That means that we have very strong policies for environmental-friendly and climate-friendly technologies, and which is a small part of why the United States now have a surplus in the economy towards Norway. So you never miss up on a good opportunity with good environmental standards. Okay.

President Trump. One of the great assets of Norway is a thing called water. And they have tremendous hydropower—tremendous. In fact, most of your energy or your electricity is produced by hydro. I wish we'd do some of that. [Laughter] But hydropower is fantastic, and it's a great asset that you have.

Thank you very much. Great honor. Thank you.

Q. Mr. President, isn't the Special Counsel still determining whether there was collusion?

President Trump. Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President's news conference began at 3:07 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, the President referred to Gen. Robert B. Neller, USMC, Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps. He also referred to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist organization.

Donald J. Trump, The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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