Secretary General Stoltenberg meets with President Trump (Q&A Part 3)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with US President Donald Trump ahead of Leaders meeting in London (Q&A), December 3, 2019.

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[Reporter] Mr. President, you’ve met with Kim Jong-un three times now and yet, he continues to build his nuclear program and test his missiles, so what more will it take?

Well you don’t know that, number one you don’t know that and number two, very importantly, I have met, and in the meantime, we still have peace. We have peace. And, at least speaking for myself, I have a very good personal relationship, and he has with me. I’m possibly the only one he has that kind of relationship within the world. They call it the Hermit Kingdom. I know a lot about his Hermit Kingdom. But I have a very good relationship. If you would have listened to President Obama, we’d be in World War III right now. So we’ll see what happens. Look, we are more powerful, militarily, than we ever have been. And I will tell you when I took over the United States military, when I became Commander in Chief our military was depleted, our military was in trouble. You know that better than anybody. We had old planes, we had old everything. We didn’t have ammunition. Now we have the most powerful military we’ve ever had and we’re by far the most powerful country in the world. And hopefully we don’t have to use it. But if we do, we’ll use it. If we have to, we’ll do it. But my relationship with Kim Jong-un is really good, but that doesn’t mean he won’t abide by the agreement we signed. You have to understand, you have to go and look at the first agreement that we signed. It said he will denuclearize, that is what it said. I hope he lives up to the agreement, but we’re gonna find out. Now, in the meantime, we’re working with South Korea because it’s burden sharing. We’re spending a tremendous amount of money to protect South Korea and we think that it’s fair that they pay substantially more. Last year, I asked them to pay more and they agreed. Nobody knows this, I’ll say it now, I think for the first time, but they agreed to pay approximately $500 million a year more for protection. It’s $500 million. Now, we only had a month or two before the budget ended so they said, no, no, no, and you know, they’re very good business people. You see how they do on trade. But they agreed to pay almost $500 million a year more. That got them up to $1 billion, close to $1 billion. That’s a lot of money. I did that with a number of phone calls and a meeting. Now we’re negotiating for them to pay more because the United States is paying a lot of money to protect South Korea and we think it’s fair that they pay up and pay more. We have a very good relationship but we think it’s fair that they pay more. I’m not sure if anybody knows. Did you know about the $500 million that they agreed to pay more?

[Reporter] No sir, can you tell us more about it?

Yeah, I met with them six, seven months ago. Maybe a little bit longer than that, and I said, you’re not paying enough, it’s not fair. They were paying 500, they were paying less than $500 million a year and it costs us billions. And I said it’s not fair. We do a great job. We have 32,000 soldiers there. It costs us many times what you’re paying and you have to pay up. And they said, again in a very good way, very fine negotiation, and they were very close to being at the end of their budget. And we agreed to $500 million more, almost. Around $500 million. And that got them up to close to $1 billion from 500 million, really less than 500 million, which has been that number for many, many years, decades. And I got 500 million more a year. So it’s 500 million a year is a lot of money, but it’s still substantially less than it costs. So now we’re in a negotiation for them to pay more. And they can do that because they’re a very rich country.

[Reporter] And is it in the—

But you didn’t know about that, did you?

[Reporter] No, that’s interesting, did you—

I wonder if I’ll get a good story for that. I don’t think so.

[Reporter] Do you believe it’s in America’s—

I don’t get good stories.

[Reporter] Is it in America’s national security interests to continue to have all of those troops in the Korean peninsula and the region?

It can be debated. I can go either way. I can make arguments both ways. But I do think this, I think if we’re going to do it, I think they should burden share more fairly. It’s not fair for the United States to defend many countries, not only that country, but many countries where we, and they’re rich countries. I could tell you this, five other countries that I’ve had the same conversations with. Saudi Arabia, we moved more troops there. And they’re paying us billions of dollars, okay. You’ve never heard of that before. You’ve never heard of that in your whole life. We move troops and we pay nothing. And people took advantage and the world took advantage of us. But we do, we have a good relationship with Saudi Arabia, but they needed help. They were attacked. And as you saw, we just moved a contingent of troops. And they’re paying us billions of dollars. And they’re happy to do so. The problem is, nobody ever asked them to do it until I came along. Nobody ever, Obama didn’t ask. Bush didn’t ask. Clinton didn’t ask. Nobody asked. In fact, they said to me, but nobody has ever asked us to do this. I said, I know King, but I’m asking. And they’re paying us, they’ve already sent us billions of dollars, it’s already in the bank. And that’s right, and they’re happy to do it. But we never had a President that would ask and it’s not right. And we have many other countries that we’re doing the same thing, wealthy countries. Now, in some cases, you have countries that need help that don’t have money. They’re poor and there’s tremendous trauma. There’s tremendous problems and things going on that shouldn’t be going on. And that’s a different situation. But we have wealthy countries. I’ve asked Japan. I said to Prime Minister Abe, a friend of mine, Shinzo, I said, you have to, you have to help us out, here. We’re paying a lot of money, you’re a wealthy nation and we’re paying for your military, essentially. You have to help us out, and he’s doing, he’s gonna do a lot. They’re all gonna do a lot. But they were never asked. Now they’re being asked.

[Reporter] Mr. President, can you speak about a China trade deal—

I think it’s a very important point, you understand. I mean, it’s a point nobody, probably, really knows about. I don’t talk about it. This is the first time I’ve talked about it publicly. But no, South Korea’s paying us almost 500 million more, and now, we’re starting a negotiation for billions of dollars.

[Reporter] In those recent talks with the King of Saudi Arabia that you just referenced—

Yeah, very recent, yeah.

[Report] Did you bring up the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the American—

Well we’ve had that discussion and we’ve had it many times. You know their position, you know my position, too. It’s always, it’s brought up. But I also brought up, and I’ll bring it up right now, the fact that Iran is killing, perhaps thousands and thousands of people right now, as we speak. That’s why they cut off the internet. So they cut off the internet so people can’t see what’s going on. But thousands of people are being killed in Iran right now. And, frankly, I don’t know how you get in there. I don’t know how you do your business, but the press ought to get in there and see what’s going on. Because the word is that thousands of people are being killed in Iran that are protesting. You’re hearing that too. Not just small numbers, which are bad. Big numbers, which are really bad, and really big numbers.

[Reporter] Mr. President, can you tell me if you do have data about those killings in Iran, is there anything more that you can do, that the United States can do?

Well, I’d rather not say, right now. But I think it’s a terrible thing and I think the world has to be watching. But many people are being killed. You’re hearing that, too. Many, many people are being killed in Iran right now for protesting, for the mere fact that they’re protesting. It’s a terrible thing.

[Reporter] Harry Dunn’s family is demanding that the US diplomat’s wife return to the UK, will you do that?

You’re talking about the woman who had the accident with the young man on the motorcycle?

[Reporter] Yes sir.

Well, you know I had his parents up, and they’re lovely people. And I’ve spoken to the woman who works for government who has diplomatic immunity. And we’re trying to work something out.

[Reporter] Mr. President, the China trade bill, Sir, do you think we’ll be able to get it by the end of the year, is that your goal?

Let me tell you, the China trade deal is dependent on one thing, do I wanna make it. Because we’re doing very well with China, right now. And we can do even better with the flick of a pen. And China’s paying for it. And China has the worst year, by far, that they’ve had in 57 years. So, we’ll see what happens. But we’re doing very well right now and I gave the farmers, as you know, $28 billion and had a lot left over. ‘Cause the farmers were targeted by China. I gave them $28 billion over a two-year period and that got them whole. That was everything that China took out, I gave them from the tariffs that China paid us and I had billions left over, many billions left over.

[Reporter] So you don’t really have a deadline?

I have no deadline, no. In some ways I think it’s better to wait til after the election, you want to know the truth. I think in some ways, it’s better to wait til after the election with China. But, I’m not gonna say that. I just think that. I just tell you, in some ways I like the idea of waiting til after the election for the China deal. But they wanna make a deal now and we’ll see whether or not the deal’s gonna be right. It’s gotta be right. Look, China’s been ripping off the United States for many, many years, again because of leadership, or lack of leadership. Or it wasn’t their thing. It’s like I told you about the military and the kind of money we’re taking in. And you know, every one of these countries, these are rich countries that I’m talking to, they would always say, but nobody has ever asked us to do that, like therefore, why should we do it now? I said, well they haven’t because they were foolish, but I am and that’s where we are. And that’s why, with Saudi Arabia, with South Korea, with so many other countries, they’re paying a lot of money to the United States that they weren’t paying, and they will be paying a lot more.

[Reporter] Mr. President, do you think that Jeremy Corbyn—

That’s a big story, right? That’s a big story, you. I don’t know, I don’t know how you can make that a bad one, but you’ll figure a way, right?

[Reporter] Mr. President, do you think that Jeremy Corbyn needs to do more to denounce anti-Semitism?

I know nothing about the gentleman, really, Jeremy Corbyn, know nothing about him.

[Reporter] Mr. President, do you know that NATO and the French began a dialogue with Russia, French President Emmanual Macron is asking to talk more to Russia, do you support him?

I think NATO should always be in dialogue with Russia. I think you can have a very good relationship with Russia. I don’t think that there’s any problem, at all, with the Secretary General speaking with Russia. I think it’s a very important thing to do.

And actually, we are talking to Russia. Because I strongly, also, asked if the President believed in the importance of having dialogue with Russia. Russia is our biggest neighbor. Russia is there to stay and we will strive for a better relationship with Russia. But we do that based on what we call the dual-tract-approach, we have to be strong, we have to provide a credible deterrence of defense, combined with dialogue. So first is deterrence defense and dialogue, and that’s exactly what we are doing. Especially when it comes to arms control. We need to avoid a new arms race. We need to avoid a new cold war. A new arms race is dangerous. It is expensive, and therefore, also, regret very much that Russia has violated the INF Treaty which banned all intermediate range missiles in Europe. The good thing is that NATO was able to respond in a unified way. We all agreed that Russia was in violation. We all supported the US decision because a treaty will not work if it’s only respected by one side and now we sit together, again, North America and Europe, US and the rest of the NATO allies, and address how should we respond. We will respond in a coordinated way together. We will respond in a defensive way. But we have to make sure that we still provide credible deterrence and defense, also in a world with more Russian missiles in Europe. Arms control is something, I know, that the President is very focused on. I really would like to see progress on arms control with Russia, but also, in one way, we have to find what is it to China because in the future, China has to be part of the arms control efforts.

And I have to say this, Russia wants to make a deal on arms control. And I terminated the deal because they weren’t living up to it and it was an obsolete deal, anyway. They weren’t living up to it. But Russia wants to make a deal, as recently as two-weeks ago, Russia wants to make a deal, very much, on arms control, and nuclear, and that’s smart, and so do we. We think it would be a good thing and we’ll also, certainly, bring in, as you know, China. And we may bring them in later, or we may bring them in now, but Russia wants to do something badly and so do we. It would be a great thing to do.

[Reporter] Mr. President, do you have a comment on Prince Andrew stepping down from his royal duties?

On who?

Prince Andrew stepping down from his royal duties?

No, I don’t know Prince Andrew. But it’s a tough story, it’s a very tough story. I don’t know him, no. Okay, anybody else? Thank you. So we’ll see you during the next two days. Interesting, right? Lot of money, lot of money. Bye folks.

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