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tv   National Security Adviser Robert O Brien on Threats to United States  CSPAN  February 5, 2020 7:55pm-9:02pm EST

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from the national prayer breakfast and speaker pelosi holds her weekly news conference at president trump is expected to make a statement on the impeachment trial and his acquittal in the senate. with te buletgedge speaks veterans in new hampshire ahead of next week's primary. a house judiciary subcommittee hearing on campaign finance. national security advisory aided officials on threats faceing the united states and commented on the impeachment trial against president trump. >> happy wednesday. halfway through the week. ambassadors, good friends of
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meried and and extraordinarily privileged to have have our national security to robert o'brien to engage in discussion and take some of your questions. as you know, there is a lot going on in the world. robert has a terrific book called "while america slept". but we had a chance to get to know each other when he served in the bush administration as a delegate to the united nations and originally from california and got the international relation bug and served early in her career in geneva working on gulf-war issues and in our system where somebody who is successful in a variety
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of field who comes in and serves the government and robert, it's a delight to have you here. and i want to thank people. this event is part of our diplomatic engagement to bridge sector. in the private we have some of our supporters here today, united airlines and grateful cademy and for their support. the work you are doing to inform your capitals about how we are thinking about the world is critical and we want to be supportive of that and we want to be part of that and we are a partner of our state department. so robert, i'm going to ask you to come up and say a few words.
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>> i appreciate that kind introduction. that is one that your mom appreciates. o thank you. the meridian center is one of the key indications and invaluable assets and it's great to be back and these speaking engagements and more people want to hear from me more than when i was a hostage. i wanted to be here because what is a friend being among friends and i bring greetings from the president of the united states. a number of you were in the house chamber and impressed that you got early after the president's speech. i'm not sure i can add a whole lot to the speech.
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but i assume politics almost six months ago, it's hard to believe the president asked me, you are having a good time and it has been a month and almost six months and in trump years are like dog years. and we have moved quickly. one of the things i talked about hen i got to the n.s.c. is reforming the n.s.c. i thought i would talk about that. it has been a relatively small president of the united states, that staff balooned under the last administration and got up to 2 6 policy professionals and give you context, when president contendy was dealing with the cuban missile crisis.
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and during the bush years, first years there were about 100 policy officials. . my predecessors have been extremely generous with their advice and counsel and their time to talk about tear tenure in office.
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>> that is not giving you the full advice. principles come to meetings. and that doesn't mean that everyone has a funeral or health issue if that happens. the next person in line.
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we have had a number of form policy successes. the president is a disruptor and he works at a different speed then at least prior administrations. he moves quickly and decisively. last week, we unveil the vision for the middle east peace process. it is a realistic plan to bring ande to the middle east bring get a court to the palestinian people. that took a lot of political courage and political capital.
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i don't think any president has done that in the first term, it is usually a second term event. it would be the second city after rome, we have two embassies, to sovereign countries in the same place. it is a fantastic opportunity for the palestinians to come to the table and have a bright future. it is a $50 billion economic plan that could not go higher. we were able to unite israelis which was not easy and the third iowa,on for the folks in they are on the third election in less than a year, so don't feel too bad. we are moving forward to bring
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peace and opportunity to the holy land. action lastsive night in dollars. every single head of state we met was from the region, including folks that may not be the biggest fan of american foreign-policy says this is a game changer and the american military and coalition partners, --y of them here today, took a limited the isis caliphate and our shoulder -- soldiers special operators. one of the touching moments last carl muriel are holding a picture of his beautiful daughter and doing the sorts of things many of us have done in many of our kids have done to help our fellow men
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instead of being able to realize her dream of helping people in and, she was taken captive subject to on to become of things. justice was brought to baghdad. when president trump came into obvious -- office, that was a challenge. diplomacy, weal de-escalated tensions and there is hope for a denuclearize korean peninsula. we are going to continue to do the hard work of diplomacy. we are working very hard and will keep pushing forward. allies toge our nato burden share. that is something that people
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scoff at the president and said you can't get this done. did someck and research for a paper i wrote. sincesingle president jimmy carter made it part of the campaign platform or campaign speeches to encourage nato to pay non-american nato members to pay more money towards their collective defense, toward our collective defense. and in every sale present of my own, president reagan, isaac hw -- present -- president h.w. bush president bush, no one was , able to get that done. president trump got it done and by 2024 we will have over $400 billion in additional spending my non-american nato members on defense. that's good for them. it's good for us and is a strong it is good for the wilbur we withdrew from the ineffective inf treaty, the russians have been cheating on that treaty for many, many years. the other thing it that is it tied our hands and so while we
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did not build, the russian supposedly the not build missiles covered by the treaty, our friends in the people's republic of china raced forward and build thousands and thousands of noncompliant missiles. they were not part of the treaty and you don't blame the period they had an opportunity, a gap and he did that but the days of unilateral american disarmament are over. we ended defense sequestration which was perhaps, i make it a policy not to criticize prior administration but perhaps the most difficult policy to overcome of the last
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demonstration was defense sequestration. it gutted the united states military but in three years we have put $2.2 trillion back in the military, were on path to 355 ship navy, on path to new weapons systems that will revolutionize warfare and make america stronger. the the president believes and i believe in a very simple approach to foreign policy national security that is peace through strength. that was president reagan's policy. that's the most successful policy that goes all the way back to biblical and to roman times, and we believe weakness
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is provocative and encourages bad actors emmaline actors to do things that damage the united states the damage our friends and allies. we're going back to a peace through strength posture. underlying all this though isn't understand by president trump of something i don't think any president my lifetime save ronald reagan truly understood and that is our economic security is what underpins our national security. so president trump say the united states was on the wrong end, was on the losing end of many, many trade relationships. in fact, the president, i've been with him says i don't blame you. you're getting a great deal. our trade deficit was $30, #50, #100, $600 billion deficit. why would you do that? i play my predecessors. just in the past several weeks we sign phase one deal with china which could end up $250 billion in purchases of american property, or american products, at the protection of american intellectual property. we signed the largest trade deal in history of the world with the usmca. that will result at least 100,000 new u.s. jobs and bring some fairness back to the
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system. system. it also great an incredible block between united states and mexico and candidate and eliminates the loopholes were foreign governments that were not part of north america trading system would exploit nafta to opting for the offense against the united states. as you heard last night unemployment is at record low. it's not just the unemployment rate. with interesting is the unemployment rate started to fall several years ago before the president took office. the reason it was folly is because americans were leaving the labor force and was have no is the unemployment rate has fallen to record lows for african-americans, asian-americans, women, blue-collar workers. it's all at the same time three and they more americans have either entered or reentered the job market. it's quite a standing. the list of accomplishments that the president has put on the board is long and it's impressive. the president did a much better job laying that out last night
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than i did in my brief remarks this morning but it's had economic success begins us the ability to seek peace in the middle east and to stand with the friends and allies to make the world a better place. i believe president trump is a transformative figure who reinvigorated american strength at home and abroad and laid the foundation for a second american century. not too long ago it was commonplace, one of the reasons i put together an little book of essays a few years ago that was america was in decline and the best thing we can do is manage that decline, following the footsteps of the british empire and become a second-rate power but do it with some sense of style. america is not in decline to america as president trump said last night it's best days are ahead of us but i believe that and i think as you travel and many of you do when you get outside of washington in new york and you get out to the rest of the country can you find optimism, you find happiness and you find real faith in the future of the united states. finally he with that message and thank you for all of your service.
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you do us a great service by being here representing your country so ably and it's been my great privilege to work with when eddie and i look forward to working with all of you during my tenure here. thank you all and god bless america. [applause] >> thank thank you, robert, for the introduction. you mentioned the restructuring or the reforming of the nsc that you undertook. if you read the history of the nsc there's always a discussion, what models, honest broker model with the cabinet agencies are working effectively together through interagency process? or where there's a breakdown in a relationship between the nsc which is operating or individually. i was wondering if you could comment on you have a model on this we try to do your own think in terms of structure and relationship with the cabinet agencies who we have this tablet form of government to play a
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critical role. great question and a do the same thing that evanescence good advisor be the party has said when he took office, and that is you look to brent scowcroft. general schoolcraft did a superb job in organizing the nsc but also in executing his mentioned as the nationals get advice to the president. his model, the honest broker model. what i told the president, i'll call you what i said in my in it for the job i told him my job of it i'll all bring the experience and biases from our past careers into our current jobs, but if my job is to come to you and give you the very best advice that your cabinet secretary, if you are my views on unhappy to five it to you. i want you to hear from secretary pompeo and secretary esper and secretary mnuchin and other, all of our great cabinet secretaries. you need to hear their advice and then i'm happy to weigh in and give you my thoughts on it. to do that for the president you can't go in the process with a
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bias, with a predetermined outcome and try to drive the meetings in the direction you want. you have to try and keys out of everyone the very best counsel that we can get up to the boss. that's my goal and i got a lot of faith in the folks the worker cabinet agencies and departments. i think we got excellent foreign service officers and with excellent officers. with fantastic folks over at homeland, energy and treasury. so our goal is to get the president the best advice we can. once he makes the decision of the elected leader of the united states and leader of the free world, it's our job and into transmit that backdoor cabinet colleagues and make sure these agencies are opening the president goals and policies in a in a way that benefits the people of the united states. >> excellent. i did want to mention you can follow us on hashtag inside at meridian. we have in addition to our ambassadorial gas, people -- press, people watching in
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their living rooms, maybe not more comfortable surroundings but different surroundings. in your pajamas. in your book, lord palmerston quote, nations done a permanent allies or enemies but they have permanent interests. i was wondering as you think about strategy, you have an inbox but you have some things you want to achieve strategically, longer-term whether it's the indo-pacific strategy compose one if you could come how you prioritize your longer-term objectives while working with all of the issues at the moment. that's probably the biggest challenge anyone sitting in the chair has come and look, that goes for senior leaders in business in the cabinet as well. we have the urgent and critical
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and important matters and then you've got the critical and important matters that may not be urgent. they may not be something we are dealing with today. the phone discovering is the ring to let you know there was a terrorist attack or losing life of an american servicemember or some sort of an event that have to get up to the president to deal with immediately. balancing all those things that happen on a daily basis with our long-term plans which are set forth in the national security strategy of the united states, which is great power competition. look, our challenge and the challenge of our generation is the rise in china and the continued role in the world stage that russia plays. these are massive countries,
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great powers. they have incredible nuclear arsenals, conventional arsenals. we've never seen a defense buildup, you probably have to go back to kaiser wilhelm to fight an analogy to what china has done with their navy and efforts in indo-pacific to assert a dominant role in the pacific. we need to focus on great power competition and that something i talk with my staff and my colleagues about every day and we need to do that at the same time that we are dealing with venezuela. trying to bring democracy to the long-suffering people of venezuela dealing with the situation at afghanistan which is been an 18 year military engagement for the united states trying to bring peace to afghanistan. middle east peace, obvious he did with iran and its malign influences across the region trying to establish a new hegemony or in part in the middle east. there's a lot of challenges with to deal with day-to-day but overall, but the big challenges as laid out and the president national security strategy is great power competition. we need to make sure we keep our
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eye on the ball and not get distracted or not put too much effort in the day-to-day challenges but maintain a steady and a wary eye on our big competitor. >> i think george scholz said diplomacy is like attending a .arden -- tending a garden you have to do it every day. and i think the crisis of the day does intrude on the execution a long-term strategy which is so critical. speaking of an inbox question or crisis of the day i wonder if you want to comment on, we have this new first phase, phase one trade agreement with china. in ancient china either strategic competitor what to do with the blue water navy, relationship is complex, but we now have this pandemic which we are monitoring and does reports coming out of china, were not sure if those reporter i could. i know there are some things you can't talk about and can't talk of. from a national security standpoint are you coordinating or discussing when something like this takes place, how do we respond? a couple of quick points. first of all look, we've got to be very careful about the rise
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of china and china has vacation -- china has engaged in debt trap policy across the pacific. they moved up the second island chain. they're building naval bases across the indian ocean into africa. it's been described as a string of pearls. they've engaged in a massive defense buildup and so we have to be, keep a wary eye on what's happening there. that's united states will not be displaced from indo-pacific. we will not be displaced from the south china sea. we will continue to believe in freedom of operations. beijing has appropriator tempted to appropriate a huge swath of the pacific ocean treat it like it some internal lake in mainland china, , be like treating like it's lake tahoe in california or in the united states. we got to keep a wary eye on that. having said that and would also been the victim of massive,
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massive theft from china. hundreds of billions of dollars figure in intellectual property has been taken from the united states. its intellectual property that was not created or innovative or earned by china, it was stolen and given to the companies and the abuse that intellectual property to obtain competitive advantages against us in the business world and the commerce world, and that's not fair. china is too great of the country. i said this to my chinese college. china is too great of the country is too many smart hard-working people to have to steal our innovation and knock it off and sell it to undercut our companies that putting the money into research and development. those are big issues. having said that, the president said this, i believe we won a great relationship with china. china has amazing people, hard-working, smart, innovative themselves so there's no reason to take things from us. and china has a great future and we want to have a great relationship with china. the phase one trade deal shows that, while we may be competitors and we may have strong differences on the rule of law and how society should
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operate, freedom, we are very opposed to what's happening in hong kong, very opposed with happening with the uighurs and reeducation camps. we have to be concerned about the sink but the same time want to have a great relationship with china. in the context of this pandemic is a terrible situation that has befallen our friends in china. for the people that lost their lives, , family members lives in china, they have our condolences and sympathy. today as we sent them maybe yesterday as we said 747s toevacuate some of our citizens, the cargo hold of the 747s were full of medical and other supplies donated by rankling grams, dispersed by the lds church in salt lake to take supplies and to take things that will help people as a sign of our friendship to the people of china come for the people of the united states. we will do everything we can to help china contain this pandemic. there was some very promising news the last couple of days china is welcoming the w.h.o. and the china to help address this terrible crisis that has beset the chinese. they will be an american component to the w.h.o.
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team so we will do everything we can. we have communicated we are standing by and will do everything we can to help china deal with this pandemic notches up the chinese people but to help people, help in the united states because this is a very dangerous and concerning virus. we need to do everything we can to contain it now and we are there for the chinese people and for the chinese government to assist them as they face this grave crisis. this is something that goes beyond politics and it's something we all need to be concerned about. i know many other countries are also involved both trying to contain the virus in your country but also reaching out to the chinese to see how we can help them deal with this terrible epidemic. last night i think the president talked about venezuela quite a bit and i think it's extraordinary there are now 59 countries that are in
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effectively coalition to try to look at the future venezuela but madura seems to have endured and survived by obviously spending money around the country, where the country from in a crisis and how does this move forward and out of the sort of standoff, if you will? >> it's a great question. one of the nice moments last
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night was when the president and it is juan guaido, the legitimate president of venezuela has been recognized by almost 60 countries as you point out. he stood up and that was one of the rare bipartisan moments. we should've had more bipartisan moments so that was a moment for republicans and democrats stood together and honored juan guaido, and through him were honoring the people of venezuela who are really suffering and are having a tough time. look, the reason that venezuela does not have democracy and is not free because cuba, russia and china are propping up a dictator who does not have the support of his people, who was illegitimate and who is exercising a tyranny over the people of venezuela. so we call on china and russia and cuba to stop meddling in venezuela, to pull their support from the dictator and to let the people of venezuela have a great life. the terrible thing come some ways it's like zimbabwe in africa which at one point was the great country, beautiful country in africa. venezuela was a riches country
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for capital in latin america and is it's been destroyed by series of socialist dictators and we need to do every weekend to support president guaido and the venezuelan people to get the country back and to have the great glorious future that they are entitled to by the god-given resources both human and natural resources that they have in venezuela and we can help them and you're getting we can. we call the chinese and russians and tell them to knock it off. just a couple more question before we open it up. you mentioned russia. i remember in your book going back use of open with crimea in the lack of international come from international response to crimea being the kind of thing that you look at in the early 20th century and say this is an example of an aggressive move
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that the world needs to respond to. i know we're trying to improve relations with russia. that's something that has been explored but we're not out of the inf treaty. we have russia involved in libya. obviously syria, and venezuela, but where do we go with russia and did you put them in the same category as china as a major threat, challenge to the united states? and what is the different approach your taking to russia or using the same kinds of tools? >> another good question. look, russia is important country, an important power. one reason devonport is there over 1400 nuclear missiles with warheads, and they are modern. president putin has put a lot of money into his military over the past several years to reassert
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russian power. russia has been more adventurous around the world recently. not just with the frozen conflicts in moldova and georgia, now ukraine, although i wouldn't call that frozen. that's still pretty active. venezuela, syria, libya. so russia is returning to the type of foreign policy that i saw growing up in the '70s and '80s when the soviet bear was all over the world. .. so we're hoping that through engagement with the russians that they'll realize that those adventures don't-- aren't good in the long-term and the people of libya and venezuela ought to determine their own future without the wagner mercenaries with one side or the other or dictators like assad or maduro. we'll reach out to the russians, it wasn't 70, 75 years ago that russia and american troops met at the river after having fought the struggle of the century,
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maybe the struggle of history and russian american troops shook hands across the river and we had a great victory with russia as our ally. we're going to do this, but not going to let down allies in the world including ukraine and one thingle' point out, what's
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ironic about the talk about ukraine lately. i was in ukraine in 2014 for the parliamentary elections and the ukrainians begged me, please, you're the arsenal democracy, we don't want soldiers here, we want to fight ourselves, give us some aid. it wasn't the-- it was this administration that gave them aid to defend themselves against eastern ukraine and the region. so, we're going to confront the russians where we need to, but at the same time i think we'll negotiate, we'll start negotiating, negotiations soon on arms control and on the nuclear issue, which is important to the safety of the world to every country, not just the u.s. and russia and we'll confront the russians where we need to, where they're engaged overseas. wrap up one question, so a lot of presidents tried to bring peace between the israelis and palestinians. the old model, it's the thing that steps back and parties have to decide what they want and the united states kind of stepped back and we've put forward a
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plan, even though i think some aspect of the plan looked like aspects of previous plans, but you know, we also need some of the arab countries and other people who are concerned about the issue to sign on and to support palestinians who are disencourage r gauge-- the disencourage r gauge-- disengaged disengaged. do you see this as the best option today? i know it's controversial. middle east peace isn't an easy thing so we thought we'd knock that out quickly and -- look, this is something that every president, i think, since president truman has grappled with. it's, peace between the israelis
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and palestinians is a difficult issue. it's shows a lot about the president and jared kushner working with secretary pompeo, all those involved in the process showed a lot of courage taking it on. we're doing it not because it's something we have to do as americans, but because we think it's the right thing to do for the people of palestine or the west bank and gaza and for the people of israel. we decided to put forward a plan, it's a two-state solution, it's a capital in east jerusalem and access of the al axa mosque, opened it up to pilgrims from outside of jordan and israel and the west bank. so the custodianship of the holy place will remain with the king of jordan. it's probably not a perfect plan from the palestinian point of view, but what they need to do is sit down at the table and negotiate, they don't like the lines in the map and change things, they need more money for economic development, those are things that could be on the
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table in negotiation, but until we get them sitting down together, it's difficult for the palestinians to get what they want. this could be the two-- the israeli birth rate is strong and sadly because of anti-semitism, jews are returning to israel. if the freeze doesn't hold and peace process doesn't work, it may be physically impossible to have a two-state solution for the israelis and palestinians in the not too distant future. we think it's an opportunity for them to get together for their people and we've been encouraged by the reaction of arab governments. there's a very positive reaction from the saudis. there's a positive reaction from the uae. and morocco, and egypt -- and compared to prior peace plans, stuart, i've been surprised how many folks in europe and the
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region who would have previously dismissed such a plan out of hand in solidarity with the palestinians have come forward and told the palestinians, this is an opportunity, this is the start and you need to sit down and negotiate and get the best deal you can for your people so they can have a future. look, the palestinians are talented, hardworking, they're entrepreneurial. with the kind of money that's being offered in this package and the opportunity to have their own state and access to ports of entry, palestine could become the singapore of the middle east if they opted for this, and i hope they do instead of keeping their people, especially in gaza, in just grinding poverty and no future. so, they're at a crossroads and i hope they take the high road. >> great, i think we'll start with our friendly ambassador of
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colombia, and frank has some microphones so he'll be coming around and will come up here. ambassador. >> good to see you again, ambassador. many instruments of russian policy, financing, in case of venezuela they're the lifeline of the maduro government. are there any sanctions or actions against those institutions providing maduro with the cash to survive? >> thank you good -- thank you. that's a great question and ambassador is one of my good friends and helped me in my prior job when i was the hostage envoy. we worked together to bring an american home and i'm grateful to you and to president duque. that's a great question and we'll look in the next several weeks and we're letting the russians and we're letting the
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company know that their support of the maduro regime is not -- it's not a good business decision, but it's also immoral what it's doing to the people of venezuela. i think you'll see some action, either voluntarily from the company or the u.s. will likely take action in the near future on that issue, it's a great question. >> great. yes, sir. >> ambassador. what yeah, i'm ambassador from death >> yeah, i'm ambassador from south korea. i appreciate your -- and i have one brief question. you just mentioned that the -- there's no progress for the -- do we expect to the negotiation table before the presidential election in the united states? what do you forsee. thank you, ambassador. and another great question and
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-- >> and another great question and look, president moon is critical, president abe our friends in the region are critical to moving that diplomacy forward. and my relationship with ambassador chung is great and with south korea on the difficult negotiations we have with dprk, with north korea. my hope is that north korea will come back to the table. we had some good talks with them late in the fall in scandinavia and we hope they'll come back to the table and then come back to sweden and meet with us. but we'll have to see. look, chairman kim made the
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commitment to denuclearize the north korea peninsula, that was chairman kim's commitment. what i've said if i was in the north korean foreign service or otherwise, i would certainly want to implement the commitment of chairman kim. not to do so would seem to be at a minimum career limiting. so, we're hoping that this the north koreans will implement the commitment that their leader made to not just president trump, but to the world and we'll continue to work closely with our south korean friends and friends in japan and in the region and continue to work with
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the russians and chinese on this issue. as far as when it happens, i think what this president has shown and what president trump has shown both with the peace plan and otherwise is there's an utter disregard on his part for u.s. domestic politics when it comes to doing what's right for the american people. he'll be doing what's right for the american people, whether it's popular, unpopular, risky, not risky, right up until the day of the election. that's not something in my brief. we don't take any notice of the domestic political calendar, we just try and get wins for the american people and that's what the president is trying to do. so i hope that we'll see them at the table soon. we'll see that's up to the north korean. >> philippine ambassador, thank you so much for giving us a copy of the middle east peace plan, of which our secretary publicly endorsed and supported. on the question of north korea, we wanted to know, are you still or are you asking the chinese to play a major role in the denuclearization of north korea? some people are saying that the north koreans trust the chinese more than the americans. >> well, the chinese have been a long time ally of the dprk and that's an excellent question. and president trump has said this in the past, the situation in north korea can't be solved without the chinese. we can't do it with just our allies, they have to stop the ship to ship transfers and the
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folks in china and remittances back to north korea to keep the economy going. we need the chinese to assist us as we pressure the north koreans to go to the table. we'll certainly be engaged with our colleagues in china on this issue. look, i don't think that china is super excited about having north korea with a large nuclear arsenal and long range ballistic missiles on their border. i mean, look, we're farther away from north korea than the chinese are. i'm not sure that they're thrilled with the idea of having a nuclear north korea, so i think it's in china's interest to work with us. they have been working with us and we'll continue to press them to do everything they can to
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help chairman kim realize the commitment he made in singapore. >> great. like a speed round here. ambassador to the ukraine. >> ukraine, so, first of all, i would like to thank you for your kind words about my country and for the assistance given to ukraine by the united states. my question is the following, would you agree there's need for more active u.s. involvement into the existing negotiating form between the u.s. and russia, and do you feel like there's a need to fill the gap which exists, both special on the united states or ukraine, thank you. >> thank you, ambassador and i had a great experience in ukraine. by the way, if you haven't been to ukraine, go. the food is fantastic, the people are warm, and the architecture and the culture in ukraine is really spectacular. so if you get a chance to visit ukraine, do so. i spent time in kyev on the western border of poland when i was a western observer in 2014. and it was one of the first i staffed the president was
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meeting with president zelensky at the u.n. i didn't realize when i came on board that ukraine would be as policy issue or domestic policy issue, but listen, we're here to support ukraine and we're in constant touch with our colleagues in paris and other european capitals on the normandy process. i think there was some progress that was made in the last round of the normandy talks. so we want to see that progress built upon and we want to see the russians live up to the commitments that they've made both in the province. and we'll continue to support our friends in ukraine. so it's a -- an independent ukraine is a ukraine that controls its own sovereignty and interact with europe the way it wants to not the way that moscow wants it to.
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and it's important to the u.s. and the world and especially to europe. we're very supportive of president zelensky in his efforts to reform corruption in ukraine and i think he can count on continued friendship and strong support from the united >> we'll do av question here and then i'd like to ask a press, i believe a couple of press questions. >> yes. thank you so much, ambassador o'brien. i would like to ask a question on your view for us your point toward african country and african union because you are coming together as a unit. thank you so much. >> ambassador, that's a great question. i'm going to turn this into a travel log, but if you get a chance to visit rwanda, it's an amazing place. it's one of the cleanest
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countries you'll ever visit. the people are incredibly warm there. you get a chance to go see the gorillas, which the president and the rwandan people are literally saving this wildlife heritage of the world. i'm not sure the gorillas would survive if it wasn't for the president and efforts of rahwanda rwanda. and it's becoming a great commercial capital in east africa in the great lakes region and it's a tremendous success story. a lot of us remember the difficult days of rwanda and you know, those days are long past and rwanda has become a great leader in africa. so if you get a chance to spend time in africa, make sure that it's on your eye ten ryitinerary and it's wonderful in the east africa region. -- itinerary and it's wonderful in the east africa region. look, africa is critical to the world and when we look at the
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number of young people in africa, when we look at the demographic trends in the world, africa is going to, you know, every five years play a more and more important role in the world economy and world politics because of its size, because of the number of people. africans are showing optimism in the future having kids and the birth rates in many other parts of the world are declining. so it's important that we remain engaged in africa. we have a number of initiatives across africa, whether it's pepfar, whether it's new trade initiatives. the opic is there, the bank is there, we're very committed to strong commercial ties to africa and building up africa through trade and investment and not through the old mechanism of foreign aid, unfortunately too much of that aid was siphoned off to corrupt leaders and corrupt governments.
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so, look, we think there's a very bright future in africa and we're going to be engaged with africa and recently had-- he think you were there, mr. ambassador. all the ambassadors over to the white house for a meeting or my colleague and ambassador from egypt was there and others of you. our approach to africa is different from the chinese, for example, we're not going in for diplomacy where we loan an africa company for a railroad and bring americans in to build the railroad and not develop skills with the locals. and maybe it's shoddy or maybe the sports stadium is falling apart and use the debt you've
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incurred and high interest rates in order for us to have leverage over your government. that's not how we do our foreign policy. we're encouraging american companies and private sector to go into africa, to do good deals in africa. africa is a very resource rich. resource rich because the natural resources because of the people of africa. we want american companies to go into africa, train african workers, make money in africa, treat africa like it's a, you know, with the respect that it's due and not just as a place for foreign largess or to be taken advantage of. it's different from the russia and chinese approach. we're there to be partners with africa and we want to see african country like rwanda to become strong and respect human rights, respect the rule of law and develop great futures for their country. and for countries that are doing that, we'll be there for them. >> congratulations for the act that is going to increase the amount of u.s. direct foreign investment in places like africa. ap. associated press.
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>> thank you, ambassador bolten for-- thank you ambassador o'brien. i don't have a book out so -- >> you don't have a mustache either. >> on ukraine, we're going to be seeing an acquittal probably and you know, the president's always said that he thought that his request for an investigation of the bidens was ok, that he did nothing wrong. so in light of the acquittal that's probably coming is the administration going to continue to seek investigations in the ukraine and secondly bolten, which was on my mind, is the nsc or the white house dragging its feet on the view, on the declassification, review of bolten's manuscript? >> yes, so, i think there are a couple of questions in there. let me try and answer them in
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turn. first on ukraine, look, i'm not aware of any request the president made to investigate the bidens per se. i think what the president wanted done, he wanted ukraines to investigate corruption in the ukraine. and he made that very clear and look, we want governments around the world that have-- especially when a new government comes in to replace a government in which corruption had flourished, we want governments to investigate corruption. we don't want to send u.s. foreign aid -- i think of every time we send foreign aid and i'm in favor of sending aid to our friends around the world that need it, but i think of a single mom, you know, working in
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detroit and paying taxes and some of those tax dollars are going to the foreign aid, to some country that we want to help because americans have big hearts, and want it assist folks overseas so i think of that single mom's tax dollars going to a place where some corrupt leader is going to take it and divert it to a swiss bank account or a cayman bank account or use it for misdeeds against their own people. i don't want to see corruption anywhere the u.s. is involved whether it's ukraine or anywhere else. with respect to the acquittal today. i think i'm looking forward to it. i think it's a terrible pall over the united states and our ability to operate in the foreign policy arena because of the investigation. i think it was unfounded.
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look, i personally found, i'll go off script here and i'm not involved in the impeachment. i came to the administration or at least the white house after some of the events that have been at issue occurred, but i've spent my entire life, whether it was in africa, afghanistan, europe, talking about the rule of law. i spent my life as a lawyer for the most part in private practice engaged in international arbitration. i think the rule of law is one of the critical things that the united states and our allies in the west have to share with the world. and there was no indicia of fairness in the house proceedings against the president. and i think that's why you're going to have such a prompt acquittal in the senate today, an acquittal that's welcome and
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i think the american people are-- it's difficult for americans to go out and talk about the right to confront witnesses, the right to have counsel, the right to have public hearings when none of that took place in the house. so i welcome the senate's acquittal. i think it's going to be bipartisan acquittal just like the vote against the impeachment article was a bipartisan against the impeachment. i think a bipartisan acquittal today. the good news is that the president has thick skin and he's a -- he's a tough guy, so while this impeachment thing is going on, we've had the usmca signed, we've had the chinese phase one deal signed, we've negotiated a peace, a ceasefire in northern syria, in turkey to save the lives of many, many kurdish fighters. we've taken out, taken terrorists off the battlefield, some of the most despicable human beings in the world, taken them off the battlefield. so the president has shown the ability to get the work of the american people done, the economy is on fire, but i think
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the acquittal will, it's something i welcome and something that the vast majority of the american people welcome and as far as ukraine goes as i said in my earlier answer we're looking forward to a continued strong relationship with president zelensky and with the ukrainian people as they confront very, very serious challenges on their eastern border. great. thank you. ask our former chairman, governor/ambassador jim blanchard. >> well, with all due respect, i don't think that the president is known for having thick skin, but otherwise, i'm going to forgive you on that one. two quick questions, one is, have you read the mueller report and the second one is, what do you think about john bolton writing a book about his memoirs working in the white house while the president's continuing to serve his current term? what do you think about that? and did you read the mueller report? >> yeah, so i read a fair amount of the mueller report. i wasn't at the white house when that came out, but i'm pretty familiar with the mueller report. and it was a, you know, i think the mueller report is an exoneration of the president. again, i think there were folks that truly, truly believed and had the opinion that the president, that the will of the
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american people in the election was somehow illegitimate and i think they took actions against the president from day one that were very unfortunate. and disappointing. so i think, i think we're beyond the mueller report. i think we'll be beyond impeachment today and i think this is a real opportunity for the president to get continued wins for the american people and i'd like to see some bipartisanship return to washington. look. when i was in the bush administration and finished off and tendered my resignation the last day of afghanistan and secretary clinton asked me to stay on. i stayed on for a year and a
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half and was happy to do so. we need to have civility returned to this city and we need to have some bipartisan that's been utterly lacking. that's good for the american people. i thought there were some instances of bipartisanship last night, but things that happened in the house chamber when veterans and others were being honored and there was not bipartisan support for them. there was disappointing. so i think we need to get back to bipartisan support. as far as tell-all books i'm not going to comment on ambassador bolten and his situation why he did what he did. i'm not going to write a tell-all when i leave office, i think the president is entitled to my trust and vice versa. if he wants to discuss policy issues or views on conversations with foreign leaders or go through military operations that are sensitive, he deserves to have my discretion and my confidentiality. and so, i'm not going to do, i'm not going to write a tell-all book and you know, even to write a biography or a memoir. there ought to be a decent amount of time after you've left office so you don't put the
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united states at risk. it's in review. as far as the book goes, the book is under review by professionals na do this sort of thing. i mean, anyone who has worked in the white house or other agencies and has signed a-- the types of nondisclosure agreements you have to sign to have access to top secret and compartmented conversationinformation. and if you want to spend time in government there's a review process for that and ambassador bolten's book is in review by career professionals and they'll be in cutch with him-- touch with him. and they've been in touch with his counsel. we're running out of time. i think we have time for one or two questions. we'll go back here. thank you, from the economist. ambassador o'brien you referred to in arms control talks with russia. could you elaborate on that, particularly specifically on the process of extending star, less than a year to go for the deadline. thank you for asking. and we spent a lot of time and folks get wound up about various issue around the world. there's probably no more serious issue than any president of the united states faces than the issue of nuclear arms, especially with countries like russia and china that have massive nuclear inventories. as do-- as does the united states. so we think that a process, an
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arms control process, even a process to reduce the number of nuclear weapons that the major powers hold is important. it's something that's very important to the president. it's an awesome responsibility to be the president or to advise the president on these issues. i think we have been in touch with the russians and will continue to be in touch with the russians. how the framework is set up, whether it is a new start, better -- those of the things we have to work out, but i also think and more importantly the president believes, china needs to become involved in
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negotiation and so we are going to work on some of those talks in the coming months and year and it is a very important issue to us and we'll see how the framework developed. i expect we will be going to beijing to talk about how we can reduce the threat of nuclear war and how we can reduce those threats that are existential. >> thank you for sharing your insight. of bertie and, we appreciate your service. we know your family gave up a beautiful life to be here at the beltway. know many ofand i the colleagues here work with
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your team and i'm sure they know how to find them. we look forward to your continued engagement. >> it is an honor to be here. thank you for having me. [applause]
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