President Trump, in an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier, indicated he is willing to set aside concerns over Kim Jong Un’s human rights abuses in pursuit of a denuclearization deal but said he will only consider recent U.S. efforts a success if North Korea actually gives up its nuclear weapons.
“I only consider it successful if it gets done,” Trump said Wednesday night on “Special Report.” “I think we have done something very historic already in one way. But to me a success is when it gets done.”
The president spoke to Fox News on Air Force One before departing Singapore, where he and Kim met for a high-stakes nuclear summit on Tuesday. “I think we have a very good relationship. We understand each other,” Trump said of Kim.
Asked about the human rights abuses and executions conducted by Kim’s regime, the president called Kim a “tough guy” but said “a lot of other people” have “done some really bad things” too.
“I mean, I can go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done,” Trump said. “Now look, with all of that being said, the answer is yes” - referring to Baier's query about Kim having done terrible things.
In the interview, Trump said that despite his call to bring back U.S. troops from South Korea, a military drawdown from the region is not being discussed as part of talks with North Korea.
“I would love to get the military out as soon as we can because it costs a lot of money and a lot of money for us,” Trump said. “I would like to get them home. I would like to, but it is not on the table right now. At the appropriate time, it will be.”
The U.S., which currently has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, has maintained a combat force on the peninsula since the end of the 1950-53 war and has used them in a variety of large-scale drills designed to sharpen skills and test troops' ability to operate effectively with their South Korean partners.
But while Trump also voiced a desire to eventually bring back U.S. troops, he told Baier that the U.S. "is not drawing down at all."
"In fact, honestly, it was never discussed. I am sure he would like that. It was never on the table," Trump said.
Speaking to Baier, the president denied that the recent G-7 summit with other world leaders in Quebec was “rocky,” and elaborated on his call for Russia to be reinstated to the group.
Russia was ousted from the group— made up of France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and the U.S.—following its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
“You know, we spend probably 25 percent of our time talking about Russia and I said wouldn't it be better if they were here,” Trump said. “I'm not for Russia. I'm for the United States.”
Trump argued that if Russian President Vladimir Putin were present at the meetings, they could use the opportunity to discuss the situations in Syria and Ukraine.
“I will tell you, as an example, if he were at that meeting I could ask him to do things that are good for the world, that are good for the country, that are good for him,” Trump said.
Fox News' Bret Baier, Andrew O'Reilly, Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.