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tv   Amanpour on PBS  PBS  June 12, 2018 12:00am-12:30am PDT

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welcome back to "amanpour on pbs." tonight, from singapore, he almost made enemies out of his friends at the g7 summit in canada, so will president trump make friends out of his enemies when he comes face -to-face with north korea's leader in singapore. my interview with the host of the summit, the singapore prime minister lee hsien loong. good evening, everyone welcome to the program. i'm christiane amanpour in the city state of singapore, which is playing host to what could be a highly significant summit
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between president donald trump and kim jong-un of north korea. as he has done from the beginning of this process, the north korean dictator seems to be setting the tone. an extraordinary walk about downtown for this reclusive leader, waving and looking confident hours ahead of the meeting. it's the only country besides china has visited. he was all smiles when he was taking selfies. president trump is hold up in his hotel planning to meet his adversary. after the g7 summit in canada went so badly. some are asking whether the trump administration is trying to wreck the western alliance. they hosted unprecedented abuse on the leader, justin trudeau. here is some of what mike pompeo
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had to say. >> we're prepared to take what will be security assurances that are different, unique, than have been provided -- that america has been willing to provide previously. in each of those two countries there are only two people that can make decisions of this magnitude and those two people are going to be sitting in a room together. >> soon enough they will be in the same room and this extraordinary summit is being hosted, as i said, by singapore, the leader of this tiny country met with both kim and trump before they met with each other. prime minister lee hsien loong tells me what he learned from them and what their meeting could mean for the region and the world. we sat down for an exclusive and surprisingly candid interview. >> welcome to the program. >> hello. >> how important is it for singapore to be hosting this summit? >> we are the host. we are the tea and coffee
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pourers. we don't participate in the summit. we don't have an influence on what's discussed or the outcome. but we hope providing a venue that's neutral to both sides. >> you say the tea and coffee hosts, it means the securities, it means paying, it means -- >> we are providing the security. we have to do that to keep the participants safe. we have to arrange for journalists like you, make sure you can do your work well. and providing hospitality to the north koreans. which i think is a gesture which will be helpful. >> that means paying their way? >> yeah, some of it. >> mr. prime minister, what does it mean for you to host this in terms of the security of this area? you're quite far -- i mean, you're quite far. you're 10 hours by plane from the korean peninsula. >> fewer buy missile. >> that's a good way to put it,
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fewer by missile. have you felt you lived under the shadow of this threat? >> no. our concern is that not that we are going to be targeted. we are not parcipants in the korean tensions. but if there areensions in northwest asia on the korean peninsula, it's going to destabilize the region, and southeast asia is not going to be let off scot-free, not the world. so i think if this meeting can have a constructive outcome and we can have contributed something to that, i think it's a duty we should do. >> let me ask you for a little bit of vital color about the main participants. that would be the leader of north korea, kim jong-un, who you've met -- >> only once. yesterday. >> exactly. so i would like to ask you, what you took away from that meeting? what did he say to you about this moment? about a potential shift in north korea's trajectory? >> he's a confident young leader.
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he came, he said thank you for hosting, we hope it will be a historic occasion. i think he wants to go on to a new path. what he's prepared to deal and how an agreement can be worked out, that's a complicated matter. but i think he has an intention to do something and that's why he's meeting donald trump. >> he's quoted as saying this was arranged like a family affair. he seems to be really complimentary, he said that -- that this could be singapore cementing its in the history of peace and prosperity in the world. >> well, he was being generous in his opening remarks. we are just the host. it's an opportunity for the two sides to meet. we provide a safe place. we make sure that the security is arranged. we make sure the world can be here. and we hope that in this environment they'll have a sense of the way the region is. the potential for the prosperity and the stability and the security in the region.
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in asia. and what that can mean for the world. and therefore, a sense of the responsibility they have, two sides, to come to some kind of a constructive outcome. >> what about president trump, you met with him after he landed, a few hours after you met with kim jong-un, it's not the first time you met president trump. >> i met him before. i gave him lunch today. >> i think everybody around the world has been stunned by the rhetoric, the tweets, the whole atmosphere around the g7 summit. >> yes. >> about how he behaved to his allies, the name calling on twitter afterwards. so i guess, which trump were you prepared to meet and which trump did you meet for lunch? >> i think it's the same donald trump i've met on several occasions. he speaks his mind. he has his opinions he has his views --
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his views on trade and the way he feels america has been taken advantage of. >> do you think america has been taken advantage of? >> i would take a different perspective. i think america took a generous approach at a time it was a dominant player in the international scene, much more dominant than it is today, after the war and for decades after the war. they took a generous approach with a marshal plan in europe, with a -- with a maintenance of the pac in the asia pacific in order to allow other countries to prosper so that america could benefit fm a stable and prosperous world and not be back in the 1930s, which led to the 1940s, which led to a lot of blood spilled by america. and that form ma has worked for america and has worked for now. now today america is a smaller
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player in the world economy. new players are coming up, by some measures the same size as america's others half the size. so some americans are asking themselves, do i still have to carry this burden for the world? why can't i just calculate for myself? is it sensible for me to make all these services, sacrifices, what some scholars call global public goods between nations to uphold a system so that everybody can benefit from it? and it's a legitimate question, however you want to rebalance the benefits and what america can -- how america can get more out of it. but to abandon the whole system and to say i'm now going to go, win/lose, item by item and
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i want to win everything single match but i really don't have an overall view of the global game. that's a very different kind of world which america will find itself in, if it goes that way, over several terms of a presidency. >> did you express that to the president? >> i think he knows our position. he has his views, so i think he's heard that from many people, i didn't feel it was my place to try and shift him dramatically. >> and yet what the president does and what america does can dramatically shift your region. just on the denuclearization, what did he say to you about what he expected to come out of this one-day summit? one-day meeting? he said he'll know in a few minutes if kim jong-un is serious or if there's a deal to be made. >> he didn't say very much, because officials are still negotiating what will come out of the meeting. i think he is hoping for an
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outcome. the key thing he needs to assess is whether mr. kim is serious or not. if he is serious, something can be worked out. if he's not, you come back to it and at some point you will be able to reach a consensus or reach some kind of agreement, if not immediately. if you assess that the other side is not serious, well, then you don't have a basis to start. that is an assessment which i think both sides will have to make of the other. >> it depends on what each side is serious about, though, obviously. each side has their priorities. the question is are they -- >> are they serious about wanting some kind of a deal? if so, are they prepared to have give and take? to put something on the table, to ask for something in return? and eventually you get something, and the other side gets something. and you also have to think about the people that are not at the table, but watching anxiously, the chinese, the japanese, and the russians. something can be worked out if you really want to come to an outcome. if you don't want an outcome,
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you just want a photo op and you go home and beat your chest on an empty document, or you go home and say the other guy you cannot do business with him, that's why this path leads to a dead end, we do something total different, which is not so denine. >> talking about a military option. >> that could be a different model. it could be a military option. and there are a lot of things to do short of a military option. there are many sanctions have been applied. >> you said a lot of the key players in the region are not at the table. in short, since you have great relations with all the people in this region, what does china want? >> i think china would like the korean peninsula to be denuclearized. i think they are anxious about north koreans having a nuclear capability, because it can lead to escalation which is not within their control. you could have escalations in
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terms of tensions and conflicts. you could have escalations in terms of the south koreans thinking they too should have such capabilities which they have in deed thought on previous occasions. >> an arm's race. >> no. not just an arms race. the south koreans are going nuclear, the japanese can go nuclear. the cabinet secretary is on record saying their constitution doesn't prevent them from working on nuclear weapons. >> do you think -- >> that may not stop them. taiwanese have nuclear power plants. and they have thoughts, too. so it is very destabilizing if you confine yourself just to east asia. and look beyond that, to the middle east, what it could mean for middle eastern players and watching this happen and watching the precedents that can be set. i think it's troublesome for the world. >> you brought up the middle east, i need to ask you, given it's totally relevant right now. given that the united states,
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the big powers, and iran came to an arms control agreement in 2015 and the president of the united states has pulled the u.s. out of it, which may kill the deal because of sanctions and secondary sanctions, et cetera, how risky is that? >> i'm not an expert in this. when you go in you can have a lot of arguments, do you want to do this? do you not want to do this? but way way or another mr. obama decided to do this, together with the chinese, the russians, and the europeans. and he did it in a way that didn't get congressional sanction. i mean, he didn't need congressional sanction. so the jcpoa is not quite a treaty, which means it can be undone without congressional sanction. but having made this move and gone in, a fact has been created you are now in a new situation. if you undo it, can you go back to status quo?
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or will you be in a new situation different from where you were before? and i don't think it's easy to go back to status quo because the sanctions, the u.n. impo sagss, the consensus which are split up internationally is not there anymore. >> what you're saying is president trump, who wants to put more pressure on iran by pulling the u.s. out will find he won't be able to? >> he may be able to, if you read what his officials say, they say we are powerful, we're the united states we'll do it to banks that do business in america and companies that do business in america and they all have to pay attention. you might be able to have considerable influence on this issue. but on many issues the u.s. is going alone, that's a different world the u.s. will be facing. you're very powerful but i think your influence would be less than if you went in together
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with others. >> what about china, there's an ongoing fisticuffs, if you like, threats of tariffs and counter tariffs with china. chinese foreign ministry said, in international relations every time you turn your back, it's another loss for your country's credibility, talking about the united states and its credibility. it's about as far as the chinese have come in putting some color on what's going on. what is your assessment of what's happening and the health of this region and the health of the global economy as a result of this? >> i think there are different layers to this problem. donald trump's starting point is that he has a big trade deficit with the chinese -- between u.s. and china and that's a bad thing he wants to fix that and he wants the chinese to open up and buy more from america. if you are spending more than you are producing, that means you will have a trade deficit. if you are spending less than
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you're producing, that means you spend money and run a surplus. so america is spending more than producing. why are you able to do that? because you're the most powerful country in the world and everybody wants to hold u.s. dollars. so it gives you a privilege as somebody called it. why is america running an overall imbalance, and it's not mainly because of trade restrictio restrictions. that's one problem. but there's another layer to this, which is that china entered the wto in 2001, it was negotiated in the years before that, at a time when it was 4% plus of the world's gdp. today it's 15% of the world's gdp. so what was agreed then with a quite small player is now, in effect, with a very big player,
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and what was politically available then may n be politically available now. therefore there is a case to say let's talk. let's work out a new basis. i think when you talk over trade issues like this, it's much better to talk in a multilateral framework. there's a wto, there's a basis for many countries to come together to work in accordance with international rules, rules which give space for all countries big and small, to operate under the same framework. >> you talk about -- >> which may not be the case if america just goes with china. which is why people say if elephants fight, the grass suffers and when they make love it's disastrous. >> again, that's a nice -- another nice saying of yours. >> others have said it before. >> let me ask you, it catches
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singapore in the middle of it, doesn't it? you have to balance your relationships with the united states and china. how difficult does it get for singapore when the u.s. and china have increasing difficulties? >> we have to be on our toes. we are friends with both. we'd like to continue to be friends with both. it's easiest for us to do that eling that you're either with me or against me, well, then it becomes harder. but we will keep on trying. >> the economist cover this week shows president trump riding a wrecking ball, and they call him demolition man. and the wrecking ball actually happens to be the planet earth. how concerned are you, at this point right now, that campaign pledges are being translated into policy that protectionism is being implemented that go it alone is being implemented by the united states, and that the president doesn't seem to agree
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with the notion of the global institutions? the global order as we know it. >> well, it is a very radical stance for a u.s. administration to take. but it's not just the president's perspective. it's the perspective of a significant number of people in america who have elected. they may not be a majority but in the american political system they have expressed their view and the administration is carrying it out. why is there such a view? you can have a lot of explanations but one of them is these are people who felt the existing system wasn't working for them, the existing elites in america were not serving them. and they do want the system remade. they don't quite know how. they are not sure what is wrong but the status quo is no good so let's change. >> is this the way to change it? economists are saying how can you say something that doesn't exist?
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they've said, this idea of these massive trade imbalances or rather trade deficits, this idea that it always harms the united states, this idea that america is the piggy bank of the world that's being robbed is not in accordance with the economic and financial facts. >> that is so. but it is a problem when you have people who think -- who believe this. who have this perspective on the world, and you have to have -- a country has to have policy which are domestically stainable. if it's not, you have a problem. >> mr. prime minister, what if these policies that the president wants to deliver for his own voters break the rest of the world? that's what i'm trying to get at. demolition man. >> the rest of the world watch what the u.s. do and how the u.s. vote with great concern. it affects us, we have no vote. and that's the way the things
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are. >> that's pretty blunt. and how do you -- okay. i don't know what the next question after that is. how do you try to convince the president, having seen what happened at the g7 all these other leaders try to give him the math, the facts and figures, the policies, not just the politics, and it went nowhere. >> this is something that has to play out within the american body of politics. there are many congressmen, senators who believe otherwise. john mccain is not the only one with a different view. it has to play out in the american political system. yours is a system which has d it is meant to be able to s. collect itself and prevent policy from being taken to unwise extremes. >> how are they doing so far, do you think? >> i think it takes time. i mean, this is one and a half years the president has an
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agenda, he's carrying out his agenda. midterms are coming this year, that will be one side. and further tests will come down the road. >> you come from a line of founders of this city state, and singapore is an immense strength and power house in this region, punching way above its weight. >> thank you for the compliment. we are a small country. >> would you say it's true? >> i would be hesitant to use such powerful language. we do what we can to look after ourselves and make ourselves relevant to others. >> we are in an era of popular push back, we see it all over the world. we saw it in the arab spring, in the populist waves we've been discussing in the united states, brexit, around europe or elsewhere. you do have a pretty strict internal logic to singapore.
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you've made a little bit of libization in terms of some areas of free speech and others, but not dramatic. where do you think singapore is going? do you see any flexibility in the future? can you open up more? >> i think when you say strict political logic, it's a loaded term. because what you mean is why are we so repressive? the answer is, we aren't. why is a political scene like this, because that's the way they eve ordered and it's the outcome of the elections. when does it change? it changes when sing pore and the electorate decides this government is not serving their interest to support this bap team and hopefully support another team which will serve them better. then it will be a different scene. it's not the way it is because we are kplafclamping down.
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have you looked at the popular vote, the last election we had 70% of the popular f vote. >> there's not a lot of tolerance for freedom of speech or public protest. >> ask me anything you want. >> last year you prosecuted someone for holding protests without a permit. so again these are political, cultural, democratic questions. >> there are arrangements. there's an enormous speaker field, any time you want to relieveour soul of an important thought you can go and spout forth. but if you go places you are not supposed to do this, the rules have to apply. you want to put stuff up on the internet, you can publish anything you want, the blogs are there, they exist multiples. you are still subject to the
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laws of liable and contempt. you can say whatever you want, people do say whatever they want. if you research what is written, you will see it's quite a lively discussion. >> you may laugh, you may not laugh. but when i came here, when i told people i was coming here, they wanted to know whether you still have very strict chewing gum and spitting rules. they remember the american pe l penalized gun. >> he wasn't penalized for chewing gum. >> he was caned. >> he went around vandalizing vehicles, scratching vehicles and causing damage. you don't get caned for chewing gum. >> how was it that singapore was chosen for the summit? >> they were looking and they
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asked, and we said if we can step up and be helpful, then we didn't hear anything, then they narrowed it down and they said yes, we would like to come to singapore, which i presume both sides said they wanted to come to singapore. then we started to prepare, and the summit was called off, but we didn't call off preparations. but then the summit was on again and we think it will be prepared by the time it happens. >> thank you for joining us. that's it for our program tonight, thanks for watching "amanpour on pbs," and join us tomorrow night when we'll have the results and reporting of what actually happened when trump and kim got in that room together. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
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christian: you are watching "beyond 100 days" on pbs. the countdown to the historic summit in singapore. president donald trump and kim jong-un just hours away from their face-to-face meeting. katty: the leaders will meet for a short period on their own. christian: the two men prepared in their own way. kim jong-un took a late-night stroll in singapore, even stopping for the odd selfie. amid early birthday celebrations, the president's senior aides are clear what they want from

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