White House Press
Reports on PM Abe-President Trump Meeting in Mar-a-Lago
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Date: April 18, 2018 at 8:07:32 PM EDT
Subject: Travel pool report #11 - Dinner remarks and lid

At the large dinner table, POTUS, with FLOTUS to his left and PM Abe to his right, made a few very short remarks.
Highlights below:
POTUS said he had been very happy to welcome PM Abe at the “Southern White House”.
“We have had two very productive days on trade, on military, on North Korea
“We have some very big meetings (...) on North Korea”.
POTUS concluded by saying he was hoping for “many many years of great friendship”.
PM Abe thanked POTUS and FLOTUS for their hospitality and joked that they already had “a cheeseburger on the golf course” and a working lunch, so “already two lunches”.
He concluded by praising his friendship with “Donald” and the friendship between Japan and the United States.
Pool was then ushered out.
WH has called a travel photo lid.
Have a good evening everyone.

Date: April 18, 2018 at 7:44:54 PM EDT
Subject: Travel pool report #10 - Dinner

At 7: 35pm, POTUS and FLOTUS, wearing a white dress and a pair of Louboutin shoes (ht Doug Mills), welcomed PM Abe and his wife Akie Abe on a red carpet. They stood together, all smiles.
POTUS did not answer questions from the pool about his willingness to seat for an interview with Robert Mueller and on the question of whether or not possible US troops withdrawal were on the table in the NK negotiations.
“Thank you” he said as the four of them headed to the dining room.

Date: April 18, 2018 at 3:10:05 PM EDT
Subject: Travel pool report #6 - Working lunch - Comments on Pompeo

Pool was ushered in a room where
POTUS and PM Abe were seated on each side of a large rectangular table with their team on each side (Mike Pence was seated to POTUS’ right).
Highlights from POTUS on Mike Pompeo below
« I think Mike Pompeo is extraordinary »
« I think he will go down as a great Secretary of State”
“Rand Paul has never let me down.
I don’t think he will let us down again”
“I have a lot of confidence in Rand”
“I think that Mike will be in good shape”
“We’ll see what happens”

More to come on trade (no news)

Date: April 18, 2018 at 3:24:12 PM EDT
Subject: Travel pool report #7 - Working lunch - Quotes on trade

More POTUS quotes (as always, please check against transcript)

- On trade
The relationship is a very good one.
We are talking military, and of course we are talking trade. What we are going to be doing now mostly is trade.
As the Prime Minister knows, they have done very well with the United States.
We have a massive deficit with Japan.
We will, I believe, at the end of a fairly short period of time, be able to do certain things.
I know they are ordering large numbers of airplanes, both jet fighters and passenger planes, and it's in the tens of billions of dollars.
This is a very exciting meeting for me, because I like this -- this may be the best, I love the world of finance and the world of economics and probably it's where I do the best.
But we will be able to work things out.

- On Larry Kudlow
He's a special man. He has been a friend. I have been on his show many, many times over the years. And we have had a lot of fun together. We haven't always agreed. But I noticed lately Larry is agreeing more and more with me, which makes me quite happy.

- Talking to PM Abe
Mr. Prime Minister, thank you so much for being here, and your representatives.
The relationship has been so good with all of us.
And let's see how we do with the trade deficit. Thank you very much for being here.
Reciprocal is the word we have to start using with a lot of nations, not only Japan.
The United States has not been properly led on trade.

Date: April 18, 2018 at 3:34:39 PM EDT
Subject: Travel pool report #8 - Working lunch - One more POTUS quote on

Pompeo and NK
POTUS talking about Mike Pompeo:

"He just left Noth Korea, had a great meeting with Kim Jong Un and got along with him really well, really great. (…) He is that kind of guy, he is really smart but he gets along with people"

Pool holding until Joint press conference scheduled for 6pm.

From: "Swisher, Skyler"
Date: April 18, 2018 at 12:37:23 PM EDT
Subject: FLOTUS pool report #3/ Flagler Museum April 18, 2018

First lady Melania Trump and Akie Abe, wife of the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, left the Flagler Museum about noon.

The two took a 40-minute tour of the mansion led by the museum's director Erin Manning. They saw Henry Flagler's private railcar, Railcar No. 91, exhibited in the museum's pavilion. The museum acquired the railcar in 1959 and restored it to its original condition. They also learned about wicker wheelchairs on display. Propelled by a bicyclist from behind, wealthy vacationers sat in the wheelchairs while traversing Palm Beach during the early 1900s.

A guest organist, whose name was not available, then serenaded Trump and Abe in the mansion's music room. The 24-rank pipe organ was one of the largest ever installed in a private home of its day. "It wasn't too loud?" the organist asked after playing a selection of music. "It's good exercise," he said. The first lady thanked the organist.

A first lady spokeswoman confirmed that Melania Trump plans to attend Barbara Bush's funeral. She did not know if the president also plans to attend.

From: "Swisher, Skyler"

Date: April 18, 2018 at 11:34:02 AM EDT
Subject: FLOTUS Pool report #2/ Flagler Museum April 18, 2018

First Lady Melania Trump and Akie Abe, wife of the Japanese prime minister, arrived about 11:20 a.m. at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach. Trump wore a green dress. Abe wore a black dress with flower print.

They were greeted by Erin Manning, executive director of the museum, and William Matthews, a museum trustee and great grandson of Henry Flagler.

From: "Swisher, Skyler"
Date: April 18, 2018 at 10:30:53 AM EDT
Subject: FLOTUS Pool report #1/ Flagler Museum April 18, 2018

Pool is awaiting the arrival of first lady Melania Trump and Akie Abe, the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum in Palm Beach.

No remarks are expected from the first lady, a spokeswoman said.

In February 2017, Melania Trump and Akie Abe toured Palm Beach County’s Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens during the Japanese delegation’s first visit to Mar-a-Lago.

Here is some background on the museum, according to its website and an application submitted to the National Park Service.

The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum is a Palm Beach landmark on the Intracoastal Waterway a few miles from Mar-a-Lago.

The industrialist Henry Flagler built the 75-room, 100,000-square-foot mansion, Whitehall, for his much younger and third wife, Mary Lily Kenan Flagler. The couple used the home as a winter retreat from 1902 until Flagler's death in 1913, establishing Palm Beach as a Gilded Age destination for the wealthy.

Designed in the neoclassical revival style, the façade is marked by massive marble columns and topped with a red barrel tiled roof. The entryway was intended to be the grandest and largest of the Gilded Age with a 20-foot ceiling and seven varieties of marble.

Most of the first floor’s large rooms follow French decorative traditions of the 16th through the 18th centuries. The rest of the interior, primarily the second-floor bed chambers and guest rooms, were originally period rooms ranging in style from Louis XIV to Modern American.

A 1902 story that appeared in the New York Herald described Whitehall as, "More wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world..."

It cost about $4 million to build and furnish Whitehall at the beginning of the 20th century, which would equate to more than $100 million in today's dollars.

After building a fortune as one of the founders of Standard Oil, Flagler played an integral role in the development of Florida, building a railroad that spanned from Jacksonville to Key West as well as several hotels.

One of the highlights of the museum is Flagler's private railcar No. 91, which was restored and is exhibited in the museum's pavilion.

About 100,000 people visit the museum annually.

Date: April 18, 2018 at 9:54:07 AM EDT
Subject: Travel pool report #4 - Flags lowered

According to Sarah Sanders, flags have now been lowered at half-staff both at Mar-a-Lago and Trump International Golf Club

Date: April 18, 2018 at 9:42:14 AM EDT
Subject: Travel pool report #3 - Update on joint press conference

Per WH, the joint press conference will now begin at 6pm

Date: April 18, 2018 at 8:10:23 AM EDT
Subject: Travel pool report #1 - Mar-a-Lago

Good morning from sunny Mar-a-Lago for the second and last day of meetings between President Trump and PM Abe.
Awaiting for POTUS departure for what could well be the round of golf which he alluded to yesterday.
The large American flag on the (private) property is not at half-staff (POTUS ordered on Tuesday flags lowered at half-staff at the White House and on all public buildings in memory of First Lady Barbara Bush).
Pool holding in vans.

Date: April 18, 2018 at 8:40:01 AM EDT
Subject: Travel pool report #2 - Arrival at Trump International Golf Club

The motorcade departed Mar-a-Lago at 8:17 am.
After an uneventful drive, the motorcade arrived at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach where the two leaders are expected to play golf
(POTUS yesterday as he welcomed PM Abe: « We are going to sneak out tomorrow morning and play a round of golf, if possible and if we have the time »).
Fourteen months ago, on February 11, 2017, the two men already played golf together in the nearby Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, a few miles to the North.
The media had been kept away from the outing but POTUS later tweeted a picture of him high-fiving PM Abe on the course.

Pool holding at Palm Beach county library across the street.


From: "Takaaki Abe"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 8:31:48 PM EDT
To: <wranglers@who.eop.gov>
Subject: POTUS Foreign Pool Report #8, 4/17/18 (Friendship Walk)

The Pool was ushered outside at 6:56PM.

Your foreign pool saw huge 5 HMI lights. A Japanese videographer told me that those must be the biggest size of HMI lights.

At about 7:17PM, both leaders and their spouses walked along the greens of the estate.

POTUS held hands with FLOTUS while walking.

They stopped walking for a photo op, and POTUS spoke a quick remarks.
“We’re getting a lot of things done. A lot of great things between our two countries. Thank you for being here. We appreciate it.”

At the end of the walking, POTUS was asked several questions.
Q: Have you guys discussed about tariffs yet?
A: We will.

Q: Have you been speaking directly with Kim? Have you been speaking directly with him?
A: Yes.

Later Sarah Sanders send the following statement.
In regards to talks with Leader Kim Jong Un:
“The President said the administration has had talks at the highest levels and added that they were not with him directly.”

A Japanese reporter (in Japanese) asked PM Abe about visiting Mar-a-Lago again, and he said (in Japanese) “TANOSHINDE MASUYO(I’m enjoying it)”

The Pool was escorted to next event at 7:21PM.

From: "Takaaki Abe"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 8:59:00 PM EDT
Subject: POTUS Foreign Pool Report #10, 4/17/18 (Final)

The pool left Mar-a-Lago at 8:15PM, and arrived the hotel poolers are staying at 8:30PM.

That’s it from your foreign pool.

It was my honor to report on the POTUS-PM Abe meetings from Mar-a-Lago


From: "Takaaki Abe"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 8:51:44 PM EDT
Subject: POTUS Foreign Pool Report #9, 4/17/18 (Dinner)

The Pool was ushered in for a dinner pool spray at 7:23PM.

Both leaders and spouse sat down at the same table.

POTUS was asked again if he has been talking directly with Kim Jong-un.
His answers were
“We've had talks at the highest level”
“Let's leave it short of that. We've had talks at the highest level. It's going well. We'll see what happens.”

It was a very quick spray.

White House announced a travel/photo lid to the pool at 8:06PM.

From: "Nakamura, David"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 7:39:11 PM EDT
Subject: Travel pool 12/statement from Sarah Sanders

Sarah Huckabee Sanders sent this statement to the pool at 7:37 p.m. after the confusion surrounding Potus’ comments in pool reports 10 and 11.

“In regards to talks with Leader Kim Jong Un: The President said the administration has had talks at the highest levels and added that they were not with him directly.”

From: "Nakamura, David"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 7:36:42 PM EDT
Subject: pool report 11/fuller scene from friendship walk, dinner photo op

At about 7;20 p.m. Trump, Flotus, PM Abe and Abe’s wife, Akie Abe, strolled along a finely manicured lawn in front of Mar-a-Lago as the sun set behind the resort. The leaders were in their dark suits and matching striped ties. Flotus was in a black and white patterned dress and white heels, Mrs. Abe in a black dress.
They stopped in front of the pool. “We’re getting a lot of things done. A lot of great things between our two countries. Thank you for being here. We appreciate it,” Trump said. The two couples then strolled away towards the outdoor dining area on the other side of the complex. Members of the travel pool shouted questions to Trump, including whether he has been speaking directly to Kim Jong Un.
Trump turned around and responded, “Yes.” But as we mentioned in the last pool report it was unclear if he was responding to that question or others being shouted.
The pool was led into the outdoor dining area. Trump was seated next to Abe, with Flotus to Trump’s right and Akie Abe to the prime minister’s left. Members of the pool specifically asked Trump to clarify and he was more vague. As pool was being ushered out from the quick photo op at dinner, Trump appeared to call over Sarah Huckabee Sanders, though pool did not see her directly confer with him.

From: "Takaaki Abe"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 6:25:03 PM EDT
Subject: POTUS Foreign Pool Report #6, 4/17/18 (Restricted Bilat)

The Pool was ushered in again for the restricted bilat at 3:55PM.

Please check official transcript, but…
at first, POTUS talked about the Japanese delegation , and he said
“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.”

With regarding to the US-North Korea summit, he said the US has not picked up a site, but picked 5 sites.
He also said the US has started talking directly at extremely high levels.

PM Abe (in Japanese) said they already had a very in depth discussion on North Korea and economic issues for 1:1 bilat meeting.
He said on those two points “We actually successfully forged a mutual understanding so I am very happy to see the outcome of 1:1 discussion.”

He also said major change in terms of North Korea’s behavior is because of unwavering conviction and determination from “Donald”

PM Abe nodded his head when POTUS said he would bring up abductee issues to Kim Jong-un when he will meet.
PM Abe (in Japanese) said he was very grateful.

Pool was ushered out at 4:10PM.

From: "Nakamura, David"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 7:27:31 PM EDT
Subject: Pool report 10/trump possible news on talks with Kim

During a “friendship walk” photo op with Flotus, PM Abe and Abe’s wife Akie Abe, potus was asked in a shouted question if he has spoken directly with Kim Jong Un. He turned around and said “yes.” However It is not completely clear if he was responding directly to that question. A lot of questions were being shouted. A few min later pool asked again after the couples were seated outside for dinner. Trump was more vague, saying he’d leave it “a little bit short of that” and reiterated “at the highest levels.”

From: "Takaaki Abe"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 5:31:12 PM EDT
Subject: POTUS Foreign Pool Report #6, 4/17/18 (Official Timeline)

According to the Japanese side, here is the official timeline.

1:1 bilat meeting

Restricted bilat meeting

From: "Takaaki Abe"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 5:24:44 PM EDT
Subject: POTUS Foreign Pool Report #4, 4/17/18 (1:1 bilat)

You already have David Nakamura’s pool reports and official transcript, but…

Pool was ushered in 1:1 bilat at 3PM.

Both leaders took a seat on the sofa, and made some remarks.

POTUS said they will discuss about trade, military, security, etc.

PM Abe (spoke in Japanese) expressed appreciation for “Donald” who invited him to Mar-a-Lago again. He also said they will having an in-depth discussions mainly on two topics, North Korea and the economy.

POTUS said the possible meeting with Kim Jong-un will be probably in early June or a little before. He also mentioned they will play round of golf, if possible, tomorrow morning..
At the end, David Nakamura asked the location of the summit between POTUS and Kim Jong-un, and POTUS said “We‘re looking at five different locations. ”
Pool was ushered out at 3:11PM.
I asked about the five locations to a US official afterward, but he simply said “I don’t know.”

From: "Takaaki Abe"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 4:52:29 PM EDT
Subject: POTUS Foreign Pool Report #5, 4/17/18 (Restricted bilat: Japaese Delegation List)

Yes, it’s pool report #5. I didn’t send pool report #4 yet.

According to a Japanese official, the Japanese delegation for restricted bilat is as follows:

(starting closest to PM Abe)

Yasutoshi Nishimura
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary

Shotaro Yachi
Secretary General of National Secretary Secretariat

Shinsuke Sugiyama
Ambassador to the United States of America

Takeo Mori
Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs

Takaya Imai
Executive Secretary to the Prime Minister

From: "Takaaki Abe"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 4:28:45 PM EDT
Subject: POTUS Foreign Pool Report #3, 4/17/18 (PM Abe MAL Arrival)

Pool was ushered in one of the main entrances at 2:46PM

A military honor cordon from Washington DC lined the both sides of the drive way.

POTUS came out at 2:57 PM, and stood at doors for a minute, then PM Abe’s vehicle arrived.

Bothe leaders shook hands, and ignored questions from pool and went inside.

1:1 bilat meeting between POTUS and PM Abe was supposed to be a closed press event, but pool was escorted inside from the entrance at 3PM.

From: "Nakamura, David"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 4:33:55 PM EDT
Subject: Travel pool 9/more from restricted bilat

The pool was led into the restricted bilateral meeting shortly before 4 p.m. Trump and Abe sat in chairs at the far end of the room, with their respective translators behind them. Five aides sat on each side. (An observation: Everyone in both delegations, including the translators, was male.) On the U.S. side were deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Nat sec adviser John Bolton, US Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty and NSC Asia director Matthew Pottinger.
Please check quotes against Transcript. In this feed, Trump praises Xi Jinping and agrees to bring up issue of Japanese abductees.

Trump opened the meeting by praising the Japanese aides, in matching black suits, as looking like they were direct from a movie. “you’re perfect.”
Trump and Abe made several remarks apiece.
“Our nations have never been closer than they are right now,” Trump said.
Abe said their one-on-one meeting was productive. “On North Korea, for the first time in the history of the world there will be a summit meeting between the United States and North Korea,” Abe said. Abe said Trump has applied “maximum pressure” on the North and credited it for leading to the direct talks.
“Donald, you demonstrated your unwavering determination in addressing the challenge of North Korea,” Abe said, thanking Potus for his leadership.
“My hope is that there will be tangible progress for resolving the outstanding issues of concern,” Abe said, mentioning missiles, nukes and the abductees, which he called Japan’s “top priority.”
Trump reiterated his belief the North Korea problem should have been dealt with years ago.
“We don’t really have a choice. It must be taken care of one way or another,” Trump said. He said he’s looking forward to meeting Kim Jong Un. “They do respect us. We are respectful of them … We will bring up the abductees… It’s a time for talking, it’s a time for solving problems.”
Trump said US relations with South Korea is “very good’ and he mentioned the renegotiation of the bilateral trade deal.
Trump said: “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.”
“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 very soon.”
Trump: “There’s a great chance to solve a world problem. This is not a problem for the United States. This is not a problem for Japan or any other country. This is a problem for the world.”
Trump: “We’ve also started talking with North Korea directly. We have had direct talks at very high levels, extremely high levels, with North Korea. I really believe there’s a lot of good will. We’ll see what happens, as I always say. Because ultimately it’s the end result that counts.”
Trump also talked about China, thanking Xi Jinping: “he’s been incredibly generous. They’ve never been this way with the United Statess. They have more respect for us and our leadership. … President Xi has been very strong on the [North Korean] border, much stronger than anyone thought they would be. I’d like them to be stronger on the border, but he’s been at a level nobody ever expected. The goods coming into North Korea have been cut down very substantially.”
Abe, visibly delighted, concluded by thanking Trump, who met with some Japanese families of the abductees last November in Tokyo, for agreeing to b ring up the issue of the abductees: “this reflects your deep understanding for how Japan cares about this abduction issues. I am very grateful for your commitment.”
Pool was then ushered out.

(note: previous pool report noted Trump said 5 sites are under consideration for Kim summit but U.S. site is not among them.)

From: "Nakamura, David"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 4:15:36 PM EDT
Subject: travel pool 8/more from first trump-abe spray

This is more from the first Trump-Abe spray. Remarks from restricted bilat coming up in next pool report.

Trump welcomed PM Abe outside Mar-a-Lago’s main door just before 3 p.m. Abe arrived in a white van. The two shook hands and went into the main receiving hall where they sat on a couch and both addressed reporters. They were wearing identical blue and white striped ties.

Trump called Abe by calling him a "very very extraordinary leader"

"It's a honor to have you in Mar-a-Lago, it's a honor to have you in the United States

"We are going to be discussing trade with Japan, we are going to be discussing military, we are going to be discussing security"

Abe said d the two leaders would talk about North Korea’s missile program and the “abduction issue” -- a reference to the at least 13 unresolved cases of Japanese who were abducted by the North in the 1970s and 1980s…
He said the two leaders would discuss ways to assure North Korea “achieving a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization as well as the abandonment of missile programs.”
“I’d like to commend Donald’s courage” in agreeing to meet with Kim
Trump referred to Mar-a-Lago as the “Winter White House”

From: "Nakamura, David"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 4:12:18 PM EDT
Subject: Flash pool 7/Kim summit not in US

Trump said in remarks at restricted bilateral that they are weighing five sites for Kim summit. Pooler yelled out to trump if any of those are in the US. He shook his head and said no.

From: "Nakamura, David"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 4:07:46 PM EDT
Subject: Travel pool 6/flash: high level talks with NK already

Trump says his administration has had direct talk withNorth Korea at “very high levels.”

From: "Nakamura, David"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 3:37:07 PM EDT
Subject: Pool report 5/Bolton sighting

Pooler saw John Bolton walk by an open door as POTUS and Abe made remarks to press. He looked in and appeared to do a double take then walked back in direction he came. More to come but pool now gathered for expanded bilateral.


From: "Nakamura, David"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 1:43:46 PM EDT
Subject: Travel Pool 2/hold at Mar-a-Lago

Pool was swept by Secret Service in a ML parking lot ringed by palm trees. We are now holding inside a large ML ballroom, which has set up for tomorrow’s joint news conference, with rows of dozens chairs and a podium with two lecterns and the American and Japanese flags. Large, ornate chandeliers hang from the ceiling painted with gold accents and designs. Pool hold is in the back, behind black curtains. We have been told no photos are allowed except at the official pool sprays. We’ve been given guidance that our next pool movement could be around 2:40 p.m.

From: "Takaaki Abe"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 1:45:49 PM EDT
Subject: POTUS Foreign Pool Report #2, 4/17/18 (PM Abe PBI Arrival)

According to a Japanese official, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official plane landed at Palm Beach International Airport at 1:21PM.
He got off the airplane at 1:30PM.

Pool arrived at Mar-a-Lago at 1:30PM.
We are currently holding.

Best regards,

Taka Abe

From: "Nakamura, David"
Date: April 17, 2018 at 1:14:47 PM EDT
Subject: Travel pool 1/transport to Mar-a-Lago

Good afternoon in sunny, warm South Florida. Your pool departed the Hilton press file shortly before 1 pm after Larry Kudlow and Matt Pottinger held an on-record briefing. We traveled in a van-cade with the WH official to Mar-a-Lago, arriving at 1:08 pm. We passed a small group of Trump supporters holding signs reading:
“Trump strong”
“USA-Japan friends”
“Kids for Trump”
“Welcome PM Abe”
Pool standing at security checkpoint for sweeps. Per WH guidance we expect three pool sprays today, one at the restricted bilats, one at the leaders photo and one at the dinner.

Office of the Press Secretary
April 18, 2018
President Donald J. Trump’s Summit Meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

On April 17-18 at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held their third meeting and affirmed their strong determination to strengthen our shared resolve on North Korea, and increase the capability of the U.S.-Japan Alliance to confront all emerging threats to peace, stability, and an international order based on the rule of law. The two leaders expressed their joint commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and an enhanced U.S.-Japan economic relationship.
President Trump and Prime Minister Abe confirmed their commitment to achieving the permanent and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea. They also reaffirmed that North Korea needs to abandon all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. President Trump and Prime Minister Abe underscored that the global maximum pressure campaign will continue until North Korea denuclearizes. President Trump and Prime Minister Abe reiterated their strong commitment to boosting trilateral cooperation with the Republic of Korea in the face of the North Korean threat and coordinating closely in advance of U.S.-North Korea talks. President Trump commended Japan’s efforts to prevent North Korean ship-to-ship transfers that are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The two leaders underscored that efforts to prevent ship-to-ship transfers should be expanded. President Trump affirmed that he will urge North Korea to promptly resolve its abductions of Japanese citizens, recalling the strong impression he received when he met the families of the abductees during his visit to Japan last November.
President Trump affirmed the importance of further progress in the area of bilateral economic, trade, and investment ties, noting the United States’ persistent trade deficit with Japan. President Trump stressed his expectation that as allies and like-minded global economic players, Japan and the United States will take new steps to expand bilateral trade and investment in order to strengthen economic growth and job creation. Accordingly, the two leaders agreed to intensify trade and investment discussions, building on progress achieved in the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue. For the United States, these consultations for free, fair, and reciprocal trade and investment will be led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The two leaders committed to advance discussions on how both countries can serve as a model for bilateral and global trade and investment promotion in the 21st century. The two leaders also committed to coordinate enforcement activities against unfair trade practices by third countries.
President Trump and Prime Minister Abe affirmed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region underpinned by respect for the shared norms and values that enable every responsible nation in the region to prosper. President Trump and Prime Minister Abe affirmed that infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific should be market-based, clean and transparent, responsibly financed, and feature open and fair access, social and environmental considerations, and standards of good governance.
President Trump and Prime Minister Abe underscored a joint commitment to safeguard unimpeded lawful commerce and respect for international law, including freedoms of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea. Prime Minister Abe and President Trump shared the view that South China Sea claimants, including China, should halt their militarization of disputed features. Prime Minister Abe and President Trump also shared the view that China and other claimants should manage and resolve disputes peacefully and in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to give full respect to legal and diplomatic processes, such as arbitration, and embed these principles in ongoing efforts by ASEAN to negotiate an effective code of conduct with China. Such diplomatic efforts should lead to demilitarization of disputed features and the maintenance of a peaceful and open South China Sea. The two leaders also reaffirmed that Article V of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security covers the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and that they oppose any unilateral action that seeks to change the status quo.
President Trump reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to Japan’s defense through the full range of U.S. military capabilities. President Trump also reiterated the United States’ commitment to provide advanced weapons to Japan, including ballistic missile defense, and the continued provision of defense articles to ensure the readiness and effectiveness of the Japanese Self Defense Force. President Trump welcomed Japan’s continued efforts to expand its role and augment its capabilities within the Alliance. President Trump and Prime Minister Abe reiterated their commitment to the bilateral plan for the realignment of the United States Forces, Japan to maintain their operational and deterrent capability while mitigating impact of the U.S. forces on local communities. The leaders reconfirmed that the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma to the Camp Schwab/Henokosaki area and in adjacent waters is the only solution that avoids the continued use of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. As such, they called for the steady implementation of the construction plan for the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) to ensure the Alliance’s ability to provide for peace and security in the region.

Office of the Press Secretary
e April 18, 2018


Palm Beach, Florida

6:16 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. I want to begin today by expressing my deep condolences to the entire Bush family on the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush, a wonderful, wonderful person. For decades, Barbara was a titan in American life. Her presence and character were engraved into America’s identity.

Her strength and toughness really embodied the spirit of our country. And her warmth and devotion earned the admiration of an entire nation and, indeed, the entire world. She was a tireless champion for literacy. She was a fierce advocate for the American family. And she was a woman of proud patriotism and profound faith.

Our hearts are saddened by her passing, but our spirits are lifted by the memories of her goodness and her grace. She was a good person.

Melania and I send our prayers to Barbara’s husband of 73 years -- I'll never beat that record -- President George H.W. Bush; to the surviving children -- Jeb, and Neil, and Marvin, Dorothy, and former President George W. Bush; and to their many wonderful grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

This evening, I also want to send a message to all of the brave service members from the United States, France, and the United Kingdom who were involved in the very successful strikes on targets associated with the Syrian chemical weapons program last week. Once again, the unmatched skill of the United States military, and our great partners and allies, was demonstrated to the entire world. Missiles were shot. They tried to knock them down; they weren’t in the least successful. They hit none.

The purpose of our strike was to establish a strong deterrent against the use of banned chemical weapons. Civilized nations must join together to prevent the horrors of chemical warfare and, in fact, warfare. And I think our allies really were absolutely world-class, wonderful. We thank them for their support.

Today, I'm thrilled to be joined by my good friend, Prime Minister Abe of Japan. Highly respected gentleman. Prime Minister, Melania and I are honored to host you and Mrs. Abe once again at Mar-a-Lago. We're grateful for the tremendous hospitality you showed us during our visit to your country last fall. It was a true privilege to be welcomed to the magnificent land of Japan, or as I've heard all my life, the Land of the Rising Sun. It's true. So great.

During our visit to Asia in November, we had tremendous success enlisting support for our campaign of maximum pressure on the North Korean regime. As you know, I will be meeting with Kim Jong-un in the coming weeks to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Hopefully, that meeting will be a great success. And we're looking forward to it. It would be a tremendous thing for North Korea and a tremendous thing for the world. So we will be doing everything possible to make it a worldwide success, not just for the United States or South Korea or North Korea or Japan, but for the entire world.

We hope to see the day when the whole Korean Peninsula can live together in safety, prosperity, and peace. This is the destiny of the Korean people who deserve and have gone through so much over the years. We hope it all works out, and we'll be trying very hard.

I want to thank the Prime Minister for his insight and support over the past year as we have pursued the dream of a peaceful, nuclear-free Korea. Shinzo, you have worked very hard, along with us and all of our people, and we thank you very much. And we're with you. And you're a lot closer than we are, but we're working on this together. Thank you very much. Your support has been critical to getting us to this important moment in time. It's a historic moment, and possibly beyond that, if it works out properly.
Our discussions today reaffirmed the close cooperation between the United States and Japan on the issue of North Korea and our common defense.

We will not repeat the mistakes of previous administrations. Our campaign of maximum pressure will continue until North Korea denuclearizes. We have great respect for many aspects of what they're doing, but we have to get it together. We have to end nuclear weapons, ideally in all parts of the world. That would be a goal for all of us, to hope for and to cherish.

As I've said before, there is a bright path available to North Korea when it achieves denuclearization in a complete and verifiable, and irreversible way. It will be a great day for them. It will be great day for the world.

During my visit to Japan last fall, I met with Japanese families who endured the terrible heartbreak of having their loved ones abducted by the North Korean regime. We want to see these families reunited as soon as possible. And I know for a fact that it's one of the truly most important things on Shinzo's mind. We talk about it often. So important to you. And we're going to do everything possible to have them brought back, and bring them back to Japan. I gave you that promise.

The United States also supports Japan’s efforts to improve its defense capabilities, and we're exploring ways to expedite the sale of American military equipment to Japan through the Foreign Military Sales program.

We've stepped up our effort not only with respect to Japan, but other allies, that when they order military equipment from us, we will get it taken care of and they will get their equipment rapidly. It would be, in some cases, years before orders would take place because of bureaucracy with Department of Defense, State Department. We are short-circuiting that. It's now going to be a matter of days. If they're our allies, we are going to help them get this very important, great military equipment. And nobody -- nobody -- makes it like the United States. It's the best in the world by far.

We're also working to improve our economic partnership by reducing our trade imbalance and removing barriers to U.S. exports. The United States is committed to free, fair, and reciprocal -- very important word -- trade. And we're committed to pursuing a bilateral trading relationship that benefits both of our great countries.

Prime Minister Abe and I have agreed to intensify our trade and investment consultations. Ambassador Lighthizer, who’s with us today, will take the lead for the United States.

These past two days have been extremely productive. The friendship between Japan and the United States has never been closer. I truly believe it has never been closer than it is today. And the bonds between our people have never been stronger.

In the months ahead, we will rely on this great friendship as we face an array of old challenges and new opportunities, and we will face them together. We will work closely on trade. We will do something having to do with the imbalance that, frankly, should have been done for years and years and years.

Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you again for traveling to Mar-a-Lago for these important discussions and meetings. It’s been a true honor to welcome you here and to work with you toward greater security, prosperity, and peace for our two truly great and wonderful nations. And thank you for being here, Shinzo. Thank you. Thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) Mrs. Barbara Bush, the former First Lady, she has passed away. On representing the Japanese people, I would like to express my condolences to former President Bush and to all the family members. We express our heartfelt condolences.

For the infinitely blue sky, refreshing and a soothing sea breeze, it was a great pleasure to be invited once again to this beautiful Mar-a-Lago and in a relaxed atmosphere to spend significant length of time with President Trump to engage in fruitful discussion in a frank and straightforward manner.

About a year ago at this place, at the very moment I was at dinner with President Trump, North Korea dared to launch ballistic missiles. It is absolutely intolerable. Immediately after I said so, President Trump stepped forward in front of the camera, though it was not planned, and made one following comment: The U.S. is with our ally, Japan, 100 percent. The President sent out a message of powerful commitment to the world.

Donald, your words on that occasion is still deeply etched in my mind, together with my wonderful memory of my stay here in Mar-a-Lago. With one single comment, you demonstrated a rather superbly strong Japan-U.S. alliance, which has a history of longer than half a century.

And once again express my deepest respect for your remarkable leadership. A year also has passed since then. The situation surrounding North Korea, due to the decisive decision by President Trump on the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit, is at a historical turning point. The past mistakes should never be repeated. On this point, President Trump and I were in full agreement.

On the occasion of the 1994 framework agreement or the 2005 Six-Party Talks agreement, North Korea committed to abandon nuclear weapons development. But those promises were broken, and the effort of the international community to engage in dialogue were all entirely exploited to buy time to develop nuclear weapons and missiles.

Based on such lessons learned, both the U.S. and Japan, together with the international community, we will demand that for all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles complete a verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles to North Korea.

By envisioning multiple scenarios, we carefully thought out our policies and directions at a concrete and detailed level. Just because North Korea is responding to dialogue, there should be no reward. Maximum pressure should be maintained, and actual implementation of concrete actions towards denuclearization will be demanded. This firm policy has once again been completely shared between us.

On this occasion, we also agree to continue our effort towards the earlier resolution of the top priority matter of abduction. Just now, President Trump, on this spot here, has mentioned that with the return of the abductees, maximum effort will be made. With a clear promise just made here, we are deeply encouraged, Donald.

Half a year ago, when you visited our country, you listened intently to each and every family members of the abductees. You listened carefully and kindly said you would like to help. Your image on that occasion is indelibly etched in the eyes and minds of many of the Japanese people. Going forward, we wish to work closely with the United States and towards the immediate return of all abductees. We are determined to strengthen our approach vis-à-vis North Korea.

North Korea has diligent workforce and is blessed with resources. If North Korea advances in the right direction, they can make their populations richer. If North Korea takes the right path under the Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Declaration, there could be a possible path to settle the unfortunate past and to normalize diplomatic relationship.

For that to happen, a comprehensive resolution of multiple concerns -- including abduction, nuclear, and missile -- will be the fundamental precondition. Through the upcoming historic U.S.-North Korea summit, we certainly hope for a breakthrough in this situation.

The Japan-U.S. alliance is not just limited to the sphere of security, but it also contributes to the peace and prosperity of the world, as well as the region. On the economic front, Japan and the U.S. will take a lead and develop a free and fair market in the Indo-Pacific region.

I spent some time with President Trump to discuss ways to make that happen in a candid manner. First of all, we must further strengthen the economic ties between the two countries. Under President Trump, exports from the U.S. -- including energy, aircraft, amongst others -- have already been increasing significantly. Further, following the bold tax reform by President Trump, Japanese companies' investments in the U.S. have been gaining momentum, which is creating a large number of jobs in the U.S. and contributing to the expansion of the exports from the U.S.

In order to benefit both Japan and the U.S., we'll further expand trade and investment between the two countries. Building upon that foundation, we'll aim to realize economic development in the free and open Indo-Pacific region based on fair rules. To make that happen, at this time, President Trump and I agreed to start talks for free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals.

And Minister Motegi will be responsible for these talks on the side of Japan. Minister Motegi and the U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer, I hope, will have very fruitful discussions.

Over the last two days, President Trump and I have spent more than seven hours together over meals and playing golf, while at the same time, we were able to hold extremely fulfilling talks in a relaxing atmosphere. The last few days were the time when I was able to further deepen my friendship and relationship of trust with President Trump.

Lastly, I'd like to express my sincere appreciation to Donald and First Lady Melania for their wonderful hospitality, as well as the continued warmhearted welcome of the people of the United States. Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, Shinzo. Appreciate it.

Questions. Mark Landler? Mark.

Q Thank you very much, Mr. President. Mr. Prime Minister, nice to see you again.

Mr. President, you sent your CIA Director to Pyongyang a couple of weeks ago, and he returned without three Americans who are being detained there, and also without any other visible signs of concessions the North Koreans had made to the United States in advance of your meeting with Mr. Kim.

My question is: Do you intend or are you willing to sit down with Kim Jong-un if Americans are still being held in North Korea? And will you insist on other tangible concessions from the North Koreans in return for gestures like sending a potential future Secretary of State to North Korea?

And for the Prime Minister, if I may -- you, a moment ago, alluded to new trade talks between your minister and Mr. Lighthizer. Should we interpret that to mean that you are now open to negotiating a bilateral trade deal between the United States and Japan?

And then, a second question. Japan is the only major American ally that was not exempted from the steel tariffs. Did you ask the President to exempt Japan? And if so, how did he reply?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you, Mark, very much. The fact is that they do have three prisoners. We have been talking about them. We are negotiating now. We are doing our very best. As you know, they've been there a long time and it's harsh treatment. We fought very hard to get Otto Warmbier back. And when we came back, he was in very, very bad condition. It was a very sad event.

We are likewise fighting very diligently to get the three American citizens back. I think there's a good chance of doing it. We're having very good dialogue. We will keep you informed. But we are in there and we are working very hard on that.

We have come a long way with North Korea. We were, as you know -- and when I say "we", for many years, they've been talking to North Korea and nothing has happened. This should have been taken care of by past administrations when they were not nearly so far along. But we put unbelievably powerful sanctions on, and many other things.

I want to thank publicly President Xi of China, who has done more for us than he's done for any other administration, or than any leader of China has done for any President or administration. He has clogged up the border, as you know, and he's done it very, very powerfully. He would tell you himself that he never thought he would go to this extent, and I appreciate that very much. But it's put a lot of pressure on.

As you know, 93 percent of the goods coming into North Korea come in from China. And President Xi understands that this is a very important set of months that are lying ahead. He doesn't want to see a Korea -- North Korea, or any Korea -- that has nuclear weapons either. So he's also fighting for China when it comes to this. But he has been terrific.

Can he be better? I always say yes, he can be better. I said, "President, you've been great. Can you be better? Yes." But he's been very good, and it's had a big impact. And what we’ve done has had a big impact.

So we've never been in a position like this with that regime, whether it's father, grandfather, or son. And I hope to have a very successful meeting. If we don't think it's going to be successful, Mark, we won't have it. We won't have it. If I think that it's a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we're not going to go. If the meeting, when I'm there, is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting, and we'll continue what we're doing or whatever it is that we'll continue. But something will happen.

So I like always remaining flexible, and we'll remain flexible here. I've gotten it to this point. President Moon of South Korea was very generous when he said, if it weren't for Donald Trump, the Olympics would have been a total failure. It was my involvement and the involvement of our great country that made the Olympics a very successful Olympics. If you look at ticket sales prior to what took place with respect to North Korea, it was going to be a big problem, and it turned out to be a very successful Olympics.

So we've gotten us here, and I think we're going to be successful. But if for any reason I feel we're not, we end. Okay? Thank you, Mark.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) Between President Trump and myself, for benefitting both Japan and the U.S., we have expanded the investment and trade based on the foundation -- open and fair economic development in the Indo-Pacific region. We have agreed to start talks for free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals at this time.

As for Section 232, Japanese steel and aluminum would not exert any negative influence on the U.S. security. Rather, it's a position that the quality of Japanese product is high. Many of those products are difficult to be replaced with, and they are greatly contributing to the U.S. industries and employment. So recognizing that, we'd like to continue to respond to this matter going forward.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I will add that the 232, having to do with aluminum and steel tariffs -- 30 percent, in one case; 25 percent and 10 percent -- that it's got us to the bargaining table with many nations, and, in other cases, they're paying. And it's billions of dollars coming into the coffers of the United States. So they've been, actually, very important.

If you look at what we did with solar panels, where we put 30 percent tariffs on, we had 32 companies opened with pretty new plants, because it's a relatively new industry. Of the 32 plants, 30 were closed and 2 were not doing well. Since putting the tariffs on, the two are doing very well, seven or eight are going to be opening, and a lot more will open.

Same thing with washing machines. We were, believe it not, having washing machines dumped all over the country. We put tariffs on, and we're now opening up and expanding companies that create and make -- which is actually a very big business -- washing machines and dryers.

So the workers of our country know what's happening. We have companies moving up from Mexico -- automobile companies -- and they’re building new plants in Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania and Kentucky, and expanding their plants. A lot of things are happening. Our country is doing very, very well. And it’s going to continue. It’s going to continue. A lot of great momentum.

If you look at any chart, the enthusiasm for business in our country is at an all-time high. And unemployment -- for African American workers, for Hispanic workers, unemployment is at an all-time low. In history -- in the history of our country, it’s at the lowest point. If you look at unemployment for women, it’s at an 18-year low. So we’re very proud of our achievements.

And starting know, as you see, over the last few weeks, the tax cuts are kicking in. And it’s a beautiful thing to see. And people are spending money where they didn’t have the money to spend previously. So we’re very happy with that.

Shinzo, please.

Q (As interpreted.) I’m (inaudible). I’d like to ask a question about how to handle North Korean issues. Prime Minister Abe, the coordination for holding summits between the South Korea and North Korea, as well between the U.S. and North Korea, is underway. There is a concern in Japan that Japan may be left behind. So how are you going to proceed with dialogue with North Korea?

President Trump, you talked about the abduction issue. Are you going to consider the nuclear weapons disarmament the same level as abduction issue?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, maybe I’ll go first. Abduction is a very important issue for me because it’s very important to your Prime Minister. I will tell you that we were having dinner last night, and he started talking about abduction and how horrible it was. And his level of enthusiasm was unbelievable. And I said to him right then and there last night at the table, I said we will work very hard on that issue, and we will try and bring those folks back home. Very, very hard.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) Whether Japan will be left behind, that is not at all the case. In the last two days, together with President Trump, we have spoken about North Korea. There will be the inter-Korean talks, and a U.S.-North Korea summit is planned. We have gone into really in-depth discussion. About our policy and direction, we have reached agreement.

Regarding the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit, we hope that it will lead to the resolution of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear missile, and of course, more than anything else, we hope it will be a historic summit that will lead to the resolution of abduction. And for that purpose, I have seriously and thoroughly discussed it with President Trump, and we have fully agreed about our direction going forward, in particular regarding abduction. As Donald has explained in our tête-à-tête, we have thoroughly discussed about this matter.

Last year, the President met with the victims of the abduction, as well as the family members. And the families' feelings have been strongly felt and understood by the President, and he has given a very encouraging comment that he would appeal towards the resolution. I highly appreciate this encouraging comment. This gives us huge courage -- a very encouraging comment. And for the families of the abductees, again, this is a massively, powerfully encouraging comment.

And, therefore, going forward between Japan and the U.S., or between the trilateral of Japan, U.S., and South Korea, we will cooperate closely and do our utmost to resolve the issues of North Korea, including abduction, nuclear, and missile.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: And we will be very loyal to Japan. Thank you.

Jennifer Jacobs.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. On the Mueller probe, have you concluded that it's not worth the political fallout to remove either Special Counsel Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein?

And, Prime Minister Abe, did the President ask you to provide more funding for U.S. troops in Japan? And what agreement did you reach here in Florida on buying more military equipment from the U.S.?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Jennifer, I can say this -- that there was no collusion, and that's been so found, as you know, by the House Intelligence Committee. There's no collusion. There was no collusion with Russia, other than by the Democrats -- or, as I call them, the "obstuctionists," because they truly are obstructionists.

So we are giving tremendous amounts of paper. This was a -- really a hoax created largely by the Democrats as a way of softening the blow of a loss, which is a loss that, frankly, they shouldn't have had from the standpoint that it's very easy for them. They have a tremendous advantage in the Electoral College. And this is what it is, and this is where it came from.

You look at the kind of money that was paid. Probably some went to Russia. You look at Podesta having a company in Russia where nothing happened and people don't talk about it. You look at the fact that their server -- the DNC server -- was never gotten by the FBI. Why didn't the FBI take it? The FBI takes what they want. They go in; they wouldn't get the server.

This is a hoax. As far as the investigation, nobody has ever been more transparent than I have instructed our lawyers -- "Be totally transparent." I believe we've given them 1.4 million pages of documents, if you can believe this. And haven't used -- that I know of, or for the most part -- presidential powers or privilege.

So we are hopefully coming to the end. It is a bad thing for our country -- very, very bad thing for our country. But there has been no collusion. They won’t find any collusion. It doesn’t exist.

As far as the two gentlemen you told me about, they’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months. And they’re still here. So we want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us. And we have to get back to business with negotiating with this gentleman and plenty of others. But this gentleman is a very tough negotiator, and we have to focus on that.

Thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) Regarding the U.S. forces expenses, of the U.S. forces in Japan, the safety and security of Japan, and the peace and stability of the Far East is being maintained.

And for the forward deployment strategy of the United States in the Asia Pacific -- in terms of the presence, their presence in Japan is very meaningful and significant. In the case of Japan, across the world, in terms of paying for the expenses, Japan accounts for the largest percentage of stationing compared to other countries. And the President understands very well.

Q I'm Taketa (ph) with Sankei News. I have a question for President Trump. This is the follow-up question for 232. So you don’t have any intention to exempt Japan at this point in time? And President Trump and Prime Minister Abe, with regard to trade, you are going to establish new talks for trade. Is it going to be in the direction of FTA or TPP? So I’d like to hear the views from both of you.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) So at this time, between President Trump, talks for free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals to initiate that has been agreed. As for this talk, Minister Motegi and Ambassador Lighthizer, USTR, will be the representative. And Mr. Asō and Vice President Pence, the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue where they will be receiving the report of these talks.

As for these talks, I thought that it would be the interest of both of the countries that the investment and trade between the two countries will be expanded. And we are going to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific economic growth.

So on the U.S. side, that they are interested in a bilateral deal, we are aware of that. But at any rate, our country’s position is that TPP is the best for both of the countries. And based on that position, we shall be dealing with the talks.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. The United States has a massive trade deficit with Japan. It’s anywhere from $69 billion to $100 billion a year. That’s massive by any standpoint. We are doing 232 on steel and aluminum. And if we can come to an arrangement on a new deal between the United States and Japan, that would certainly be something we would discuss -- aluminum tariffs and steel tariffs. And I would look forward to being able to, at some point in the future, take them off.

But right now we have a deficit that’s a minimum of $69 billion a year. Japan sends us millions and millions of cars, and we tax them virtually not at all. And we don’t send so much product because we have trade barriers and lots of other things. So these are the things that the Prime Minister and I are going to be discussing over the next short period of time.

The media has not covered the TPP correctly. I don’t want to go back into TPP, but if they offered us a deal that I can’t refuse, on behalf of the United States, I would do it. But I like bilateral. I think it’s better for our country. I think it’s better for our workers. And I much would prefer a bilateral deal, a deal directly with Japan. We already have a deal with 6 of the 11 nations in the TPP. So we already have trade deals, and the others we can make very easily. They’re all calling wanting to make a deal. But we think that’s much better for us.

So unless they offer us a deal that we cannot refuse, I would not go back into TPP. We’ll see what happens. But in the meantime, we’re negotiating. And what I really prefer is negotiating a one-on-one deal with Japan. And that’s where we are right now, and I will say that the representatives who are sitting right here are extraordinarily competent and very tough -- those representing Japan. And we will hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, have a very good deal -- good for Japan and good for the United States. Okay?

Thank you all very much. We appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you very much.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, Shinzo.

Q Anything sanctions on Russia, sir?

Q Why no sanctions on Russia, sir?

Q Mr. President, why did you delay the sanctions on Russia?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah, we'll do sanctions. As soon as they very much deserve it, we will have -- that is a question. There has been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump. Between building up the military, between creating tremendous vast amounts of oil. We raised billions and billions of dollars extra in NATO. We had a very, very severe -- we were talking about it a little while -- fight in Syria recently, a month ago, between our troops and Russian troops, and that's very sad. But many people died in that fight. There has been nobody tougher than me.

With the media, no matter what I did, it's never tough enough because that's their narrative. But Russia will tell you, there has been nobody tougher than Donald Trump. And then, the other night, we had a strike in Syria, which was absolute precision.

I leave it with this, with all of that said: If we can get along with China, and if we can get along with Russia, and if we can get along with Japan and other nations, that's a good thing, not a bad thing. Just remember that. If we got along with other nations, that's good, not bad.

Thank you very much everybody.

END 6:55 P.M. EDT

Office of the Press Secretary
April 17, 2018


Palm Beach, Florida

3:54 P.M. EDT

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: (As interpreted.) 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 North Korea’s behavior. And background of this change is Donald's unwavering conviction, as well as the 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 has 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, as the planned U.S.-North Korea summit meeting, which will be held for the first time, my hope is that there will be 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 a 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 parallel 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 goodwill. 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 them 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: (As interpreted.) 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. and North Korea summit meeting. And this request, your deep understanding of how Japan cares about this abductions issue. And I am very grateful for your commitment.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You have my commitment. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: Thank you very much.

Q Are any of the sites in the U.S.? Any in the U.S.?


END 4:10 P.M. EDT

Office of the Press Secretary
April 9, 2018


Palm Beach, Florida
3:00 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, everybody. It’s an honor to have Prime Minister Abe with us. The Japanese people greeted me so warmly when I was there, and actually even before becoming President. It’s a very, very special country, special place, with a very, very extraordinary leader. So it’s an honor to have you in Florida with us, it’s an honor to have you at Mar-a-Lago, and an honor to have you in the United States. It’s really something special.

We’re going to be discussing trade with Japan. We are going to be discussing military. We’re going to be discussing security. And we will, I am sure at the outset -- we’re going to get along. And when it’s all over, we’re going to get along even better. So thank you all very much for being here.

Mr. Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) I’d like to express my appreciation for Donald, who kindly invited me back to Mar-a-Lago, which is a gorgeous place. I’m very happy to be back.

So, for today and tomorrow, I am going to have an in-depth discussion with Donald, and I very much look forward to having our discussion, mainly on the two topics which includes North Korea and the economy.

For the North Korean issue, I’d like to underscore the importance of achieving the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, as well as the abandonment of missile programs of North Korea. And on this specific point, I would like to share understanding and recommendation with Donald.

So both Japan and the United States have been demonstrating leadership in applying the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea, which actually successfully made North Korean side to start seeking dialogue with us. So it is fair to say that our approach has been proved to be successful and the right one.

And also, on this occasion, I would like to commend Donald’s courage in his decision to have the upcoming summit meeting with the North Korean leader.

So I look forward to having a thorough discussion on the issue of North Korea, including both nuclear as well as missile issues, and also the abductions issue, which is a priority issue for Japan.

So we have a gorgeous setting for both of us to have today’s discussion. And I very much feel both delighted and also privileged to have a discussion with Donald today to talk about our cooperation to achieve the development of both Japan and the United States, and also how we can collaborate together to realize peace in the region, as well as in the entire international community.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, thank you very much. Many of the world’s great leaders request to come to Mar-a-Lago and Palm Beach. They like it; I like it. We’re comfortable. We have great relationships. As you remember, we were here and President Xi of China was here. And when we do it -- it was originally built as the Southern White House. It was called the Southern White House. It was given to the United States, and then Jimmy Carter decided it was too expensive for the United States. So they, fortunately for me, gave it back and I bought it. Who would have thought? It was a circuitous route. But now it is, indeed, the Southern White House. And again, many, many people want to be here. Many of the leaders want to be here. They request specifically.

North Korea is coming along. South Korea is meeting, and has plans to meet, with North Korea to see if they can end the war. And they have my blessing on that. And they’ve been very generous that without us and without me in particular, I guess, you would have to say, that they wouldn’t be discussing anything, including the Olympics would have been a failure. Instead, it was a great success. They would have had a real problem.

But as you know, North Korea participated in the Olympics, and it made it -- really, it was quite an Olympics. It was quite a success that would not have happened. And they do have my blessing to discuss the end to the war. People don’t realize the Korean War has not ended. It’s going on right now. And they are discussing an end to the war. So, subject to a deal, they would certainly have my blessing. And they do have my blessing to discuss that.

Japan and ourselves are locked, and we are very unified on the subject of North Korea. We will probably be -- depending on various meetings and conversations, we’ll be having meetings with Kim Jong-un very soon. It will be -- that will be taking place probably in early June or a little before that -- assuming things go well. It’s possible things won’t go well and we won’t have the meetings, and we’ll just continue to go along this very strong path that we’ve taken. But we will see what happens.

Tomorrow, we’ll have further discussions on trade, on North Korea, on our military. Japan is buying a tremendous amount of military equipment from the United States, which is good. And as you know, we’re buying a lot of cars and a lot of other things from Japan. But we are each buying a lot. But we still have to talk about trade, and the Prime Minister understands that.

We’re going to sneak out tomorrow morning and play a round of golf, if possible and if we have the time. When I was in Japan, the Prime Minister took me out too, and we played with a great golfer, Matsuyama. Right? Matsuyama. He’s one of the top three or four golfers in the world. And I always thought I was okay at golf, but then I realized we’re not so good. So he was really great and very special.

And I also, just in ending, I want to congratulate you. It wasn’t Matsuyama, but another great golfer from Japan won the big PGA event this weekend. And it’s been a long time. So I just want to congratulate you on that. That’s a big honor. It’s a great honor. Thank you.

Did he do a good job?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: Very good. Very. (Laughter.) Good memory.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think so. Very good. Thank you.

I just want to conclude by saying that our house -- this great house -- is filled with people from Japan, representatives from Japan, and from the U.S. And they've been negotiating for weeks, actually. And hopefully this will be the conclusion of some very good transactions for both, including tremendous purchases from the United States and also from Japan.

So I want to thank everybody for being here. And, Mr. Prime Minister, it's a great honor to have you. Thank you so much.


Q Where would you like the summit to be?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We're looking at five -- five different locations.

END 3:11 P.M. EDT


Office of the Press Secretary

April 17, 2018



Hilton West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach, Florida

12:20 P.M. EDT

MR. KUDLOW: I'll just say to start, before we take some questions, this is a very important meeting. A lot of really key issues are on the line. You obviously know about the foreign policy side regarding North Korea, which is a major, major issue for Japan and for the United States.

On the economic and trade side, there will also be very important issues. Japan is a great friend and ally. We have certain disagreements with respect to some of the trading issues. We'll iron those out, hopefully.

Mr. Abe is a friend of President Trump's, and I think the general setting is going to be very positive. There are some bilateral issues. In fact, the United States would probably like to see a free trade agreement come out at some point with Japan.

And the rest of it is -- I believe stocks are up 260 points. Yesterday was Tax Day. No, today is Tax Day. Lower taxes. Strong economic growth. Nobody believes that, except me. I'm hanging in there. We're in the early stages of an economic boom here in the United States. And actually, Japan's economy has improved quite a bit.

So instead of babble on, let me just stand up and take some questions. We have a team of experts that will try to help you out.


Q Thanks, Larry. Can you tell us if you or any of the other U.S. trade officials or U.S. economic officials have had any discussions at all with the Japanese side about a revived TPP? The President suggested that might be something you would do, and he ordered you to do that last week. Has that happened?

MR. KUDLOW: Yes, there are discussions and considerations. There's nothing at all concrete. It's too early to say. The President has asked me to give it another look, if you will. I think Japan is going to move towards a vote in their parliament on the matter. It's a very important issue there.

I can't say what we'll do. It's way too early.

Q What was the reception on the Japanese side when you broached that with them? Are they willing to engage with the United States on allowing the U.S. back into TPP?

MR. KUDLOW: Yes. Yes. But that's all it is, if you will -- talk.

Yes, Major.

Q When you say you're going to look into TPP, what are you looking for?

MR. KUDLOW: Look, it's got to be -- I'm just going to be general on this; I don’t want to get into details. It has to be in U.S. interest for us to take another look and actually go into it.

The President believes it is not presently in U.S. interest to sign it. And that's not a new point; he's made that before.

Q But you'd be looking into negotiating it differently, right? This would not be looking into what had been generally agreed to. You'd be looking at a whole new set of negotiations and whether or not that's worth the effort. Is that fair?

MR. KUDLOW: In policy content terms, it's never been to our liking. So if we choose to go down that path -- and that decision has not been made, I want to just be very clear. If we choose to go down that path, however, to "improve it," we will have to be convinced that it's worth our while. And I don’t think the President is yet convinced of that, to be honest. I don’t think he is.


Q Sir, what can the President offer Abe to sort of sweeten the pot to enter into a new bilateral trading agreement? Because Abe clearly comes down to the side of TPP as opposed to bilateral. And I think the idea of bilateral trade throws chills down his spine.

MR. KUDLOW: I'm going to wait for the talks to progress. It's a good question. I don’t want to get ahead of it. I want to wait for the talks to progress. There are a lot of issues on the table, but I don’t want to get ahead of itself. To quote a hackneyed thing, I don’t want to get ahead of my skis. We'll see. We'll see. Really, we'll see.


Q This might be a question better to you, Matt. But about North Korea, what is the President's message about the upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un? Can you give us any kind of -- what's the reassurance to the Japanese? Obviously, they've got some concerns about that. Do you have any update at all as to where that will be, when it will be? Do we still think it's going to be in May? That's what the announcement was. We're rapidly approaching May.

MR. POTTINGER: Sure. So with regards to timing, I think the President's public comments still stand. He said that it's going to -- we're aiming for a summit in May or early June. Nothing has changed that. In terms of venue, we've nothing to announce right now about that, or really in terms of the details, other than what the President has said, which is this is -- he has accepted an invitation to meet with the leader of North Korea to achieve the permanent denuclearization of North Korea.

So that is going to be one of the key topics that President Trump is going to be talking about with Prime Minister Abe. It has been, since President Trump came into office, one of the key topics. They've conferred extremely closely on this.

As I mentioned the other day, President Trump has met with Prime Minister Abe more than he's met with any other foreign leader. And Prime Minister Abe and the President are going to want to exchange views in advance of a summit with the North Korean leader so that we make sure that Japanese interests and American interests are both fully accounted for. Japanese security interests are American security interests. That's why we are allies. That's what it means to have an alliance.

Q But what are the backchannel negotiations that are going on, on this?

MR. POTTINGER: Well, there's nothing in terms of channels that I'm at liberty to talk about today. There will be more to share about that in the weeks ahead.

Hallie and then David.

Q Thanks, Matt. One for you, and then, Larry, a follow-up to you, as well. There's some reporting out today that North Korea and South Korea may be announcing plans to officially end military conflict. Can you talk through what you and the administration know about that and how that plays into the talks?

MR. POTTINGER: Yeah. Someone just alerted me to the story. I haven’t read it yet. But I would just say that the U.S. and South Korea are as much aligned and coordinated on their summit as we are on a U.S. summit.

So we had the National Security Advisor of South Korea here just last week to have his first meeting with Ambassador John Bolton. Very substantive meeting. Very clear exchange of views on planning for both of these summits.

But at this point, there's no advantage to sharing too much publicly yet.

Q And then, Larry, just as a follow to you on the TPP discussion, and then one other on taxes, actually. When you said that the President has expressed to you that he wants to give another look at reentering TPP, can you explain what prompted that, what triggered the President? Was there an activity? Was there something that you said to him that made him change his mind?

And then, just since you brought up Tax Day, too, apparently the IRS is crashing; the online system is down. Are you in touch with your Treasury counterparts on that? And what is the White House doing?

MR. KUDLOW: The IRS is crashing? (Laughter.)

Q I don’t know if you heard about it, but I didn’t know if you were in touch with the guys, with Secretary Mnuchin.

MR. KUDLOW: Sounds horrible. Sounds really bad. (Laughter.)

Q And on TPP, sir, can you explain --

MR. KUDLOW: I hope it gets fixed.

Q -- what led to the President's change of heart?

MR. KUDLOW: Look, the TPP thing -- I don’t want to say you’re barking up the wrong tree; you’re not. I’m just saying, at the moment, we are in the pre-preliminary stages of any discussion at all. And we’ll see how that goes.

It will come up in this summit, no question about it. But for the American side, at the moment, it’s more of a thought than a policy, that’s for sure.

Look, the President said this in Davos -- he’d be willing. Remember the line, “America first does not mean America alone”? That’s a very important line, and that’s about as far as I want to go on it.


Q Do you see TPP, potentially, as a bulwark -- a potential bulwark against China? And is that part of the appeal of reentering TPP?

MR. KUDLOW: I think that our disagreements with China stand alone. We don’t need TPP; we don’t need anything. There’s trade disputes going on here that stand on their own regarding us and China. We don’t need TPP to do any of that stuff. It might work. It might hypothetically work, but that’s not where we are.

The President has an ongoing discussion with some policy items on the agenda, as you know. That includes tariffs and it includes negotiation. And we will see how that does. But our discussions with -- our trade disputes with China stand alone from TPP.

Go ahead, John.

Q Question for Matt. You said that Japan’s security is in the interest of U.S. security. But clearly, Shinzo Abe is concerned about what talks with Kim Jong-un may mean for the security umbrella that the United States has in East Asia. What assurances can the President give Shinzo Abe today that his concerns will be taken into account in any meeting with Kim Jong-un?

MR. POTTINGER: Yeah. So since President Trump and Prime Minster Abe first met after the election, before the President was even inaugurated and in all of their interactions since -- frequently on the phone, frequently in person -- the commitment to the alliance by both sides has come through loud and clear in all those interactions.

So I think that there will be plenty of time for them to talk in some detail about objectives for a potential summit, for Japan to share its perspective. The President has a great degree of respect for Prime Minister Abe’s views on security in the region and on the Peninsula, and so they’ll cover a lot of ground, I think.

I know I tapped you, David, but --

Q Two quick ones. One, Matt, if you could talk a little bit about -- there’s been some reporting in the South Korean media and elsewhere that negotiations are under way for the three Americans who are still held in North Korea to be released. Do you expect that to happen before a summit or as related to a summit? Is that a condition the U.S. expects?

And then, second of all, if you could just -- because I know he’s on the trip, but he’s not here today -- if you could talk a little bit about John Bolton’s -- we know his very public views about North Korea. How has he approached the planning since he’s been here for about a week now? Can you talk about maybe what directions he’s offered, what vision he’s offered since planning was already under way?

MR. KUDLOW: We’ll let John speak for himself.

Q But can you talk about the other thing about the American detainees?

MR. POTTINGER: Yeah. I mean, in terms of -- the fact that there are three Americans who are being held unlawfully in North Korea is something that is on the minds of all Americans serving in this administration right now. I’m not going to talk about how that factors in, but you can be assured that it factors very much into future interactions between our government and the North Korean government.

Q Is it a precondition?

MR. POTTINGER: Nothing to add beyond that.

MR. KUDLOW: I just want to make clear -- there’s a lot of TPP questions -- the United States trade discussion or trade dispute with China, which is very significant, is really in no way related to the TPP. The President regards them as two different issues, so that whatever happens or not with TPP, our discussions -- our very serious discussions with China over forced technology transfers and theft of intellectual property and so forth and so on, that’s ongoing. That’s not linked to TPP. I just want to make that as clear as I can.


Q Larry, thanks. I want to ask you about the value of a number of free trade agreements in the region. It seems that the administration’s policy has been there’s nothing wrong with approaching each one of the partners over there and continuing to operate in that light. Is that the position as it relates to Japan specifically? And will you use that as a template for other nations in the region?

MR. KUDLOW: You know, the President said a number of times he greatly prefers bilaterals to multilaterals. That’s his comfort zone, his preference.

So in terms of your question, the answer is, yeah. I mean, you’ve got a lot of free trade agreements, and we’re taking a look at everything. Right now, the focus is on Japan. That’s the key point. I don’t want to speak to the other countries.

Q Do you agree with that posture, though? Or --

MR. KUDLOW: Pardon?

Q Do you agree with that strategy? Or are you going to try to influence the President to think more broadly?

MR. KUDLOW: I have a lot of discussions with the President. They’re all private discussions.

I'll go over here, to be fair. Yes? Go ahead.

Q Thanks. You had talked about China a little bit earlier, so I wanted to get your response to the announcement from China earlier today. They were saying they're going to lift some of the restrictions on foreign autos, but also they imposed new duties on sorghum. Does the U.S. see this as sort of a ratcheting down of the trade tensions between the U.S. and China? Or what’s your response to those actions this morning?

MR. KUDLOW: Whenever they’re moving in our direction in a conciliatory way, whenever they’re lowering barriers, that’s a good thing. That’s good for them, it’s good for us, and it’s good for growth on both sides and the rest of the world. When, however, they raise barriers, as they seem to be on the farm issue, that’s not good.


Q Thank, Larry. I just want to follow up on your answer to Hallie’s question about the IRS. You know, people are filing their personal income tax returns today. The system is down. You seem to not share a whole lot of concern for their plight. What is your message to the American people who are having difficulty filing their taxes?
MR. KUDLOW: Look, the IRS will straighten it out. I don’t know the nature of this whole story. I’ve just gotten wind of it.

You know, part of our tax policy, and part of the success of the tax cut plan is to simplify. And as the President and many others have said, this will be the last filing of the old, highly complex policies. It’s not perfect, but we’re gaining on it. That’s different than whatever technical breakdowns there may be in the Internal Revenue Service. They’ll fix that.

And we probably have more work to do on the simplification. We probably do. But this is a great down payment. And I do want to bring back this idea that lower tax rates; child credits, doubling the child credit; doubling of the standard deduction; lower small and large business taxes are all very positive all across the board, and the economy is responding positively.

We are in a growth mode. We’re running a percentage point above the prior baseline. And if we keep that up, either way, the deficit will be much, much less than it’s now scored in CBO and elsewhere. These are good things.

But I can’t -- I honestly don’t know the inners of this. Was it a computer breakdown? I mean, yeah. Well, I’m sure they can fix it.


Q Thank you, Larry. A question for you, and then one for Matt. For you: The Japanese were the only major American ally that was not granted an exemption on the 232. Most people expect the Prime Minister to press the President on that. Do you see a path for granting Japan an exemption?

And then, just quickly to Matt. He’ll also -- the Prime Minister -- no doubt ask about intermediate-range missiles. Do you expect the President to give him comfort that not just intercontinental missiles, but medium-range missiles will be something that he’ll push for in the summit with Kim?

MR. KUDLOW: To your first question, it will be under discussion. It’s a key point on the agenda.

Q Do you see a path -- a way that they could be granted?

MR. KUDLOW: I just don’t want to speculate on the outcome of the meeting.

MR. POTTINGER: You know, certainly the entire world recognizes the danger posed by the entirety of the missile arsenal of North Korea. It’s why the entire world is now implementing U.N. Security Council resolutions that were passed -- four of them in this administration, the toughest ones yet. And all of them passed unanimously.

So yeah, we’re certainly going to be taking into account the full range of threats that North Korea poses to regional security, to the American people, and to our allies.

Q Okay, questions for each of you. First, Larry, can you talk a little bit about the relationship that the President sees between trade and security -- marrying these two issues with Japan?

And then, Matt, I also had a follow-up question about what John asked about -- what assurances that the U.S. will be able to provide Japan before sitting down with this meeting with North Korea. Because as you said earlier this week, the President and Prime Minister Abe are in constant contact. They’re talking frequently. So, surely, the President is well aware of what those concerns are that Prime Minister Abe has walking into this meeting today. So what is he prepared to offer Japan to mitigate some of those concerns?

MR. KUDLOW: President Reagan used to say, strong at home, strong abroad; weak at home, weak abroad. I believe President Trump shares that view, and that’s why economic growth is so important. That’s not the whole security story, obviously.

But if you’re looking for linkage, it’s right there. And our economy is now producing at a faster rate. This provides us with, first of all, more resources to do a lot of things, including national defense and security.

Second of all, the U.S. has become, frankly, a magnet for investment. We have become the hottest investment destination in the world. And that’s even beyond the repatriation of a couple of trillion dollars in the tax law change. This is, you know -- we have lowered our barriers on regulations and tax rates and so forth, and so money is flocking to invest in the United States. That’s the first time we can say that in many, many years, so that’s a big plus.

And in terms of our relationships around the world, with respect to security -- I’m not a security expert, but I would just say a stronger economy here puts us in a very strong position around the world. Very strong position. And that’s a good thing.

MR. POTTINGER: Like I said before, the reassurances that the President has provided from the beginning of his relationship still stand. And I don’t think that Prime Minister Abe will leave Mar-a-Lago with anything other than a high degree of confidence in the health of the alliance, including as we go into a summit with the North Koreans. I know that there’s some Japanese press in the back. I mean, we could tap on --

MR. KUDLOW: I got to go to deep right field. I promised.

Q Thank you so much. So in terms of deliverables, what does President Trump hope in terms of concrete deliverables coming out of this? Is there a possibility 232 exemptions could come out of this, or the beginnings of a bilateral free trade agreement, or any other concretes?

MR. KUDLOW: You know, as I've said before, this is all on the table. That’s why this is such an important meeting. But I don’t want to get ahead of that curve. I really don’t.

Now -- yes, sir. You’ve been very patient. Thank you.

Q Thank you very much, Mr. Kudlow. You have been stressing the importance of the trade coalition of the willing, I think including Japan and Europe, which, in my view, is very compelling. But on the other hand, if the U.S. pushes ahead too hard with this trade agenda -- prioritizing bilateral agreement -- that may weaken your case or that may not work in a positive way for the U.S. to encourage better China’s behavior on trade to --

MR. KUDLOW: It’s just -- look it. My statement, which is catching on, I’m glad -- this trade coalition of the willing that I’ve been talking about, and others have been talking about, is really aimed at China. I mean, China is a first-world economy, behaving like a third-world economy. And with respect to technology and other matters, they have to start playing by the rules. And the President emphatically -- empathically -- supports that view. That is the essence of his policy, “Play by the rules, or there will be consequences.” It can be negotiated out if it’s satisfactory to both parties.

But I think -- my point about China is: Our complaints, if you will, particularly with respect to technology but not only -- you know, you’ve got various trade barriers to come down. You’ve got various market openings to come down.

But with respect to these disputes, the rest of the world is with us. The President hasn’t consciously sought this, but it’s happened. And it’s a good thing. So I think it strengthens our case. And I don’t want to get caught up in bilateral this, bilateral that. Europe, Britain, Japan, Asia, capitalist countries in Asia, Australia -- they’re all behind us on this. And so I’m hoping that China reads that carefully and responds positively.


Q Slightly off-topic here, but if you don’t mind, is there confusion inside the administration on new sanctions toward Russia?

MR. KUDLOW: No. I think the issue here is we have a set of sanctions, and additional sanctions are under consideration but not been determined.

Q So why did Nikki Haley say that sanctions were coming on Monday?

MR. KUDLOW: She got ahead of the curve. She’s done a great job. She’s a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that. But if you talk to Steve Mnuchin at Treasury and so forth, he will tell you the same thing. They’re in charge of this.

We have had sanctions. Additional sanctions are under consideration but not implemented, and that’s all.


Q Thanks. Just a quick question for Matt. Can you speak to the domestic political considerations that Abe brings to the table? Has the President been briefed on that? Is he of a mind to do or say anything during the summit that might boost Abe’s standing at home?

MR. POTTINGER: The President is, of course, well-briefed on the relationship, what’s going on -- to some extent, domestically in Japan -- just as Prime Minister Abe is being briefed as he’s flying right now, getting close to landing here in Palm Beach, on what’s going on the domestic front here. So it’s all part and parcel of the relationship.

Sometimes they talk about the respective politics in one another’s countries. They enjoy talking about it. So I don’t think there’s anything special to say about that at this point, though.

Yeah. Sir.

Q Hi, my name is Koji (ph) with the Asahi, and my question is on North Korea. And some experts think that negotiation with North Korea might be just buying their time on North Korea. So is there any possibility that Trump and Abe will talk about target year of denuclearization during their summit? Like 2020, for example?

MR. POTTINGER: I would just say that President Trump has a team of people working for him now who have extensive experience dealing with the North Korea nuclear menace. If there is any intention by the North to merely buy time for this program, there will be an unhappy result, I would say.


Q How about target year of -- target year to achieve a denuclearization?

MR. POTTINGER: Yeah, nothing that I would comment on, specifically, about that right now at this point. It wouldn’t be appropriate. Yeah.

Q You said that the President has a team working for him now. Do you mean that a new team in place, as recently a team that was not in place, say, three months ago?

MR. KUDLOW: There are newcomers and there are old-timers.

Q (Inaudible) the team that's around the President now is now more attuned to, as you said, the menace posed by North Korea than the team that was around him in the past?

MR. KUDLOW: No, no. No. No. It’s just a lot of good people. And as I say, there are some newcomers and there are some old-timers.

Yes, in the back. Yes.

Q I just want to try one more TPP question for you. Just a second ago, you said that the trade coalition of the willing is relating to China, but then earlier, in saying that the trade discussions with China is in no way related to TPP. Isn't there some sort of a contradiction there in that TPP essentially would be that trade coalition of the willing?

MR. KUDLOW: Not necessarily. Remember, this coalition is global. It’s not just Pacific Asia. And I think everybody is heartened at the positive response from the European countries and Great Britain. That’s why I’ve tried to delineate not to mix the two up. They’re separate tracks.


Q I just have one more on tariffs. Are you expecting that the Prime Minister will ask for an exemption on the steel tariffs? And what is the President considering he would offer?

MR. KUDLOW: I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.

Q If he asks?

MR. KUDLOW: Pardon?

Q If he asks, that’s what you would not --

MR. KUDLOW: Wouldn’t be surprised.

Q And then what? And then what?

MR. KUDLOW: I can’t say. I mean, let’s see what happens. Let's see what happens. If you want Kudlow predictions, you’re not going to get them. (Laughter.)

Q But you’re so good at that.

MR. KUDLOW: I know, but that was another life. (Laughter.)

Other questions, please. I don’t want this to get out of hand.

Q Larry, can I just ask --

MR. KUDLOW: Sorry?

Q What would it take for them to get an exemption?

MR. KUDLOW: You know, there’s no strict conditionality. There will be discussions about that. The President has some very clear views on the matter, and he will communicate them.

Q One question for Matt, if I could. Just on this news about South Korea saying that South Korea and Kim Jong-un could sign some sort of peace treaty, if not at the summit in Pyeongchang, that maybe soon after that. How would that change, if you could, the whole calculus of the U.S. meeting with Kim?

MR. POTTINGER: Look, the President is focused on a potential summit here that he’s accepted an invitation to attend. He’s staying in very closed coordination and contact with President Moon. And at the level below the Presidents, there’s probably a higher degree of coordination taking place than has ever taken place since the end of the Korean War. There will be plenty of time to talk about the goals of that inter-Korean summit and how they might mesh with goals for President Trump’s own. But there’s nothing I want to go into specifically about it today.


Q Matt, can I throw one more to that? And forgive the millennial slang on this, but given -- I mean, you know the President and Shinzo Abe have had a close relationship. There’s, as you know from these questions, trade tensions, there’s discussions of their involvement in any kind of summit with North Korea. Are they still in a bromance or has that cooled off? (Laughter.)

MR. POTTINGER: It’s not a term I use. I’m not a millennial. I’m a Gen-Xer and proud of it.

MR. KUDLOW: That’s millennial speak. Millennial speak.

MR. POTTINGER: But, you know, I’m sure you’ll make your own judgments based on the chemistry that will be evident when he arrives here later this afternoon.

Q What is your judgment on that, though?

MR. KUDLOW: I’m a Baby Boomer. You didn’t ask that. I’m a Baby Boomer.

Q The fact that Japan wasn’t consulted in any way before the President sort of abruptly announced this potential summit with North Korea, can you speak -- is there some need to mend fences? Why wouldn’t the U.S. have consulted this ally that he’s so close to before making such a significant announcement that could be defining to his time in office, Matt?

MR. POTTINGER: So the President has kept in such close contact with Prime Minister Abe that when the announcement was made -- you’ll have to ask the Japanese whether, in fact, they felt that they were not pre-consulted. I’d be surprised if they would say that that was the sense.

Q Were they? I'll ask you: Were they pre-consulted? Did we speak to the Japanese before the announcement?

MR. POTTINGER: I won’t go into the details about -- but I think you should ask the Japanese whether it was a surprise to them. And Prime Minister Abe took the opportunity to reach out, and the two immediately decided that it made sense to meet well in advance of that summit.

Q Matt, picking up on (inaudible) potential summit. You said potential summit. Do you still think it’s more probable than not that this summit will occur? Or do you think it’s more probable that it won’t occur?

MR. POTTINGER: I’ll let the President’s public statements stand on that.

Q Right, but you said potential summit. And I’m just trying to understand what you’re conveying by that.

MR. KUDLOW: Look, the President’s intention is to have a summit.

Q Right, I know --

MR. KUDLOW: The terms, the places, none of that has been settled yet. None of that has changed. Just not -- it’s not changed. That will probably come up in this summit, and we’ll see what additions we learn.

And I just want to say -- we’re going to wrap here -- I understand lots of details and so forth, which I can’t answer. And I apologize, but it’s going to be a very interesting summit.

Look it -- these are two old friends. Okay? These are two democracies. These are two free-market capitalist democracies who are trying to improve economic growth for both their countries and their regions and the rest of the world. I don’t want to lose sight of that. We’re here to help each other. We have great relations with Japan, and that’s going to be enhanced by this conference. And I just want to instill that thought.

I appreciate -- sorry we can’t answer every question, but it will see as it unfolds. Thank you very much.

END 12:54 P.M. EDT


Office of the Press Secretary

April 17, 2018


“We cherish the friendship between the United States and Japan. And I cherish my friendship with Prime Minister Abe.” – President Donald J. Trump
A CLOSE FRIENDSHIP: President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have worked together to reaffirm and reinforce the unwavering alliance between the United States and Japan.
• In the days following the 2016 Election, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the first world leader to seek and arrange a meeting with then-President-Elect Donald J. Trump.
o President Trump and Prime Minister Abe have developed an enduring friendship and trust, holding nearly 30 official meetings and phone conversations on a variety of issues.
• President Trump and Prime Minister Abe have repeatedly reaffirmed their mutual commitment to fostering strong domestic, demand-driven growth and fair trade practices that result in reciprocal trade across the globe.
o President Trump has praised Prime Minister Abe as a “very aggressive, strong, [and] tough Prime Minister” who has stood with the United States on a variety of issues.
o Prime Minister Abe has remarked that, “over the half-century history of [the] Japan-U.S. alliance, we [have] never seen two leaders of Japan and the United States forging as close a relationship as ours and as strong a bond as ours in just one year.”
• Prime Minister Abe invited Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump to deliver keynote remarks at the World Assembly for Women in Tokyo, Japan last fall, underscoring both countries’ commitment to empowering women in all aspects of life.
• The unwavering security relationship between the United States and Japan has been reinforced through renewed defense commitments between President Trump and Prime Minister Abe.
o President Trump has pledged to protect the people of Japan, as emphasized during his November visit to Japan in remarks to American and Japanese troops at Yokota Airbase and at his press conference with Prime Minister Abe.
o The President and the First Lady have met with families of Japanese nationals abducted by the North Korean regime, with President Trump vowing to “work with Prime Minister Abe… and see if we can bring them back to Japan, where they want to be.”

SHARED PROSPERITY: President Trump and Prime Minister Abe are working to continue a decades-long tradition of shared economic successes between our two nations.
• Through rigorous investment, hiring, and workforce development, Japanese companies support over 850,000 American jobs.
o Major Japanese companies such as Toyota, Mazda, Honda, and Denso have invested billions of dollars into American factories, R&D, and employment.
o In his State of the Union address, President Trump praised Toyota and Mazda for investing $1.6 billion towards a new Alabama manufacturing plant, which has been estimated to create up to 4,000 American jobs.
• Japan represents the third largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the United States, with total 2016 FDI exceeding $424 billion.
• Under the Trump Administration, the United States and Japan have negotiated a series of mutually beneficial deals, strengthening the economies of both nations.
o In November 2017, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) signed Memorandums of Understanding with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) to offer high-quality United States-Japan infrastructure investment alternatives in the Indo-Pacific region.
o Also in November 2017, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to bring high-quality energy infrastructure to the Indo-Pacific region.
o The United States and Japan have launched the Japan-United States Strategic Energy Partnership to promote universal access to affordable and reliable energy in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

DENUCLEARIZING THE KOREAN PENINSULA: President Trump has worked with Japan to achieve denuclearization of the Peninsula and to protect our allies from the North Korean threat.
• The President has implemented a campaign of maximum pressure against North Korea in order to compel the country to relinquish its nuclear weapons program.
o Driven by the Trump Administration’s leadership, the United Nations has passed four rounds of sanctions against North Korea.
• The Trump Administration approved the sale of advanced missile defense technology to Japan, further protecting our ally from the North Korean ballistic missile threat.
• In December and October 2017, the U.S., Japanese, and South Korean militaries conducted a joint ballistic missile defense exercises.
• In September 2017, in response to a North Korean ballistic missile launch over Japan, U.S. Joint Strike Fighters and B-1 bombers joined the Japanese and South Korean air forces for joint exercises in South Korean and Japanese air space.