Sen. Lankford on Trump's North Korea meeting

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 9, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

TRISH REGAN, GUEST HOST: Well, the White House today saying it will demand concrete conditions for talks with North Korea's Kim Jong-un. What should those conditions be? And should the U.S. prepared to walk if those conditions are not met?

Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma has been to the demilitarized zone. He's also a member of the Intelligence Committee. And he joins me now.

Welcome. Good to see you, Senator.

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD, R-OKLAHOMA: Good to see you as well.

REGAN: My goodness, this is certainly a significant, historic development, if indeed it happens, correct, the meeting?

LANKFORD: It is historic, and we hope that it does happen in the days ahead.

And looking forward to the ongoing conversation and the product from that, but this is a first step in a very long journey, to try to bring the nuclearization of that peninsula down.

REGAN: It's my understanding that there has been no reporting among the North Koreans of this, that Kim Jong-un has positioned himself within his country as being very adamant that they have to have these nuclear weapons.

So, sources tell me that there is nothing in North Korea right now that is even mentioning the meeting. Do you think that he's ashamed that he's gotten to this point? Do you think that he's worried he will lose his power base internally there within the country if people learn that he's even talking about demilitarization, denuclearization at all, Senator?

LANKFORD: Yes, we are going to wait and see what all that comes out.

It's hard to be able to get his frame of mind and what he's trying to accomplish. The difficult thing is what you just laid out for the North Korean people. And that's been the big issue for a long time, is not only the North Korean regime's threats towards their neighbors, including us, but it's also been their oppression of their own people.

Their own people have suffered greatly from the sanctions, and so has the regime itself. So, the grief here is for the people of North Korea, who are extremely limited in information, extremely poor, very little electricity, very little access to the outside world at all.

That changes if Kim Jong-un decides he's going to back away from his nuclear ambition. So, the best thing for the people for North Korea is for their leadership to stop trying to threaten the rest of the world, but to be able to get in step. They could have better food. They could have more electricity. They could have better medicine. They could have all of those things if they actually engaged with the rest of the world, rather than threatening the rest of the world.


That said, perhaps the only reason he is still in power there is because he does have those nuclear weapons. This is at least perhaps how he sees it. And I used the Libya example earlier with Gadhafi, where things didn't work out so well for him.

Once you give up the weapons, then you lose all your power and suddenly you're out. Is that a risk that you think Kim Jong-un is contemplating right now?

LANKFORD: I hope that he would hear very clearly from the president and from the secretary of state and from myself and from multiple others we are not looking for regime change in North Korea.

We are looking for North Korea to step away from their saber-rattling and threatening the rest of the world with attack. I think, at times, he believes the only way he stays in power is if he maintains nuclear weapons.

I think the only way that he loses power if he maintains nuclear weapons. So, if he will step away from that, obviously, we want to work with the people of North Korea to be able to help in a humanitarian way in the days ahead.

But we are not going to do that if he is a nuclear power trying to threaten the rest of his neighbors.

REGAN: All right, well, we will be watching it very carefully. The whole world will be watching this very carefully, and hoping you all are going to able to get something accomplished here to keep everyone safe.

Thank you, Senator.

LANKFORD: You bet. Thank you.

REGAN: All right.


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