I’m sitting down with President Trump for the first interview immediately following these historic meetings with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Our conversation will air on @GMA this morning and https://t.co/hXwqhvMw8k— GeorgeStephanopoulos (@GStephanopoulos) June 12, 2018
President Trump sat down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos Tuesday in Singapore, after his meeting with Kim but before his press conference. This interview marks the first presidential sit-down for any of the broadcast networks since the infamous May 2017 interview with NBC's Lester Holt when the president sparked accusations of obstruction of justice by talking about the Comey firing.
Among other topics, Trump said he trusts Kim to follow through on his pledge to denuclearize, discusses how long it will take, the "terrible" Iran nuclear deal and explains that the now-viral photo of him facing down Angela Merkel at the G-7 summit in Quebec was less tense than it appears.
Transcript via ABC News:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. President, thanks for doing this.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much.
G: So we saw you sign the agreement right in this room. You also said you developed a special bond with Kim. Describe that bond.
T: Well, it’s been a very intense day, and as you know, we discussed things over the last few months.
G: You did? You’ve spoken with him before?
T: Yeah, I have spoken, yes, I have spoken to him, I have spoken to a lot of his people, his, as you know, his, I would say very top person was at the White House last week. And so we’ve developed a pretty good relationship in terms of getting something done. It got done. I think it’s a terrific document. It’s a starter, but it’s a terrific document. I think far more -- and there are things that we negotiated after that document that are also very important.
G: Like what?
T: They’re going to get rid of certain ballistic missile sites and various other things. We’re gonna put that out later. But we have the framework of getting ready to denuclearize North Korea.
G: Yeah, and the phrase in the document is “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Does that mean that the nuclear umbrella that we have over South Korea is on the table for negotiation?
T: No. That means that they’re going to get rid of their nuclear weapons. We never even discussed the other. They're going to get rid of their nuclear weapons, George, and I think they want to do it relatively quickly. Now, we're going to see. I mean, they’re going to start working on it immediately. We’re going to work with South Korea. We’re going to work with Japan. We’re going to work with China. But it really has been an incredible exercise.
G: You’ve set the bar for nuclear agreements by criticizing the Iran nuclear deal, said it’s the worst deal ever made.
T: Terrible deal.
G: Does that mean that any deal with North Korea has to be tougher than the Iran deal?
T: I don’t think a deal could be softer. First of all, we’re not paying $150 billion, OK, we’re paying nothing from that standpoint other than, you will see what happens. I think there’s going to be a great partnership with Japan and South Korea. President Moon [Jae-in] has been terrific.
G: But they have to get--
T: [interrupting] President Abe has been terrific.
G: But they have to get rid of all their nuclear weapons?
T: They have to get rid of, yeah, I think that they will. I really believe that he will. I’ve gotten to know him well in a short period of time.
G: Did he tell you that?
T: Yeah, he’s de-nuking, I mean he’s de-nuking the whole place. It’s going to start very quickly. I think he’s going to start now. They’ll be announcing things over the next few days talking about other missile sites because they were, as you know, they were sending out a lot of missiles. It was a period of time where I was saying, what are they doing? Every week it seems another missile going up. I mean, they're going to be getting rid of sites.
G: Is he going to stop testing?
T: How many months has it been, George? Seven? Where there’s been no missiles going out?
G: He’s committed to not starting that up again?
T: He’s committed to not starting again. That won’t be happening. He means it he really wants to do something I think terrific for their country and it’s the only way it can be it’s the only way it can be terrific.
G: How long is it going to take?
T: You know, if you look at, if you talk to the experts, you can’t just do it immediately.
G: Some say 15 years.
T: It takes a period of time. Some say 15 years, if you go rapidly. But when you’re in the process of doing it, you’re really dismantling, in other words, you can't do anything during that period of time. But they have a process for getting rid of nukes that does take, it’s not like, oh gee, we’ll get rid of them tomorrow. It just can’t be done scientifically. But they’re gonna do it. They’re gonna start immediately. They really already started. They blew up a site, which was the real deal site that was their big site, they’ve blown it up. They’re getting rid of things that haven't been mentioned in the document, they’re getting rid of certain missile areas and they’re not going to be sending missiles up. They’re not doing research--
G: And they’re going to announce that and confirm it as well? These additional steps--
T: Say it?
G: The north koreans are going to announce these additional steps as well?
T: Yeah they’re going to be announcing them shortly, they might have announced them already but after we signed we agreed to that also, and I’m doing something that I’ve wanted to do from the beginning. We stopped playing those war games that cost us a fortune. You know, we’re spending a fortune, every couple of months we’re doing war games with South Korea, and I said, ‘What’s this costing?’ We’re flying planes in from guam, we’re bombing empty mountains for practice. I said ‘I want to stop that and I will stop that, and I think it’s very provocative --
G: Could you talk--
T: Especially, George, since, we’re getting along. In other words, we’re in--
G: Did you talk about pulling troops out?
T: --process of signing something. Excuse me?
Read the rest of the transcript at ABCNews.com