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Rex Tillerson
  Secretary of State Tillerson Describes Meeting Between President Trump and...  CSPAN  July 7, 2017 10:24pm-10:46pm EDT

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>> secretary of state rex tillerson, who is attending the g-20 summit in germany, briefed reporters on the presidents meeting today. while cameras were not allowed in the briefing, we are able to bring you the audio. it runs about 20 minutes.
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>> thanks for staying with us late this evening. president trump and president putin met this afternoon for two hours and 15 minutes on the sidelines of the g-20. the leaders exchanged views on the current nature of the u.s.-russia relationship and the future of the u.s.-russia relationship. they discussed important progress that was made in syria, and i think all of you have seen some of the news that just broke regarding a de-escalation agreement and memorandum which was agreed between the united ,tates, russia, and jordan important area in southwest syria that affects jordan's security, but also a very complicated part of the syrian battlefield. this de-escalation area was agreed and well-defined.
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the cease-fire has been entered into, and i think this is our andt indication of the u.s. russia being able to work together with syria, and as a result of that, we had a very lengthy discussion regarding other areas in syria we can continue to work together on to the area and to work together towards a political process that will secure the future of the syrian people. ofa result, at the request president putin, the united states has appointed, and i think you have seen the especiallyt, ambassador to ukraine, ambassador full, who will draw on his decades of experience as a representative to nato and also his time as a permanent
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political appointment. the two leaders also knowledge the challenges of cyber threats and interference that a democratic processes of the united states and other countries. they've agreed to explore creating a framework around which the countries can work together to better understand how to deal with these cyber threats, both in terms of how these tools are used to interfere with the internal affairs of countries, but also how these tools are used to threaten infrastructure, how these tools are used from a terrorism standpoint as well. the president opened the meeting with president putin by raising the concerns of the american people regarding russian interference in the 2016 election. they had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject. the president pressed president
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putin on more than one occasion regarding russian involvement. president putin denied such involvement, as, i think, he has in the past. the two leaders agreed, though, that this is a substantial hindrance in the ability of us the russian-u.s. relationship forward and agreed to exchange further work regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the united states and our democratic process as well as those of other countries. there is still more work to be done in that regard. i have to take your questions. >> nick waters from bloomberg news. can you tell us if president trump said if there would be consequences for russia for
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tampering in the u.s. election echo did he spell out any specific consequences russia would face? and on the syrian cease-fire, when does it began, and what makes you think it will succeed this time when past agreements on a cease-fire have failed? >> with regard to interference on the election, the president took note of actions that have been discussed by the congress. most recently, additional sanctions that have been voted to make itsenate clear as to the seriousness of the issue, but i think the two presidents, i think rightly, focused on how to move forward. how do we move forward from here. it is not clear to me that we will ever come to some agreed-upon resolution of that question between the two nations, so the question is what do we do now? i think the relationship -- and the president made this clear as well -- is too important, and
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it's too important to not find a way to move forward. not dismissing the issue in any way, and i do not want to leave you with that impression. that is why we have agreed to continue engagement in discussion around how we secure .ur commitment the russian government has no intention of interfering in our affairs in the future, nor the affairs of others, and how to
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accountable. this is obviously an issue that is broader than just u.s.-russia, but it is a manifestation of that threat in the event last year. so i think again the president is rightly focused on how do we move forward from what may be simply an intractable disagreement at this point. as to the syria cease-fire, i would say what may be different this time, i think, is the level of commitment on the part of the russian government. they see the situation in syria transitioning from the defeat of isis, which we are progressing rapidly, as you know, and this is what really has led to this discussion with them, as to what do we do to stabilize syria once the war against isis is won. and russia has the same interest that we do in having syria become a stable place, a unified place, but ultimately a place where we can facilitate a political discussion about their future, including future leadership of syria. so i think part of why -- and again, we will see what happens as to the ability to hold the cease-fire -- but i think part
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of what's different is where we are relative to the whole war against isis, where we are in terms of the oppositions, as to their strength within the country, and the regime itself. in many respects, people are getting tired. they are getting weary of the conflict, and i think we have an opportunity, i hope, to create the conditions in this area, and the south is our first show of success. we are hoping we can replicate that elsewhere. >> mr. secretary, you spoke when you were speaking of the cease-fire about detailed information about who would enforce it. can you give any information about what provisions were reached and the future leadership of syria? secretary tillerson: i would like to defer on the specific roles of security forces on the ground because there are a couple more meetings to occur. this agreement was entered into between jordan, united states, and russia, and we have a clear
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picture of who will provide security forces, but we have a few more details to work out, and if i could, i would like to defer that until that is completed. i expect that will be completed within the next -- less than a week. the talks are very active and ongoing. and your second question, again -- >> does the administration still believe that assad will be the head of the government in syria? secretary tillerson: yes, our position continues to be, we see no long-term role for assad or his family. we have a clear with our discussions with russia that we do not think syria can achieve international recognition in the future, even if they work through a successful political process. the international community is not going to accept a syria led by the assad regime. and so, if syria is to be accepted and have a secure
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economic future, it really requires that they find new leadership. we think that it will be difficult for them to attract both the humanitarian aid as well as the reconstruction assistance going to be required because there just will be a low level of confidence in the assad government. so that continues to be the view, and as we said, how assad leaves is yet to be determined, but our view is that somewhere in that process there will be a transition away from the assad family. >> thank you. on north korea, did president putin agree to do anything to put more pressure on north korea? and, secondly, you seemed to have reached somewhat of an impasse with china in terms of getting them to put more pressure on north korea. how are you going to get them to
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go beyond that already, and what will president trump say to president xi on that tomorrow? secretary tillerson: we will continue those discussions and ask them to do more. russia does have economic activity with north korea, but i would also hasten to add russia's official policy is the same as ours, a denuclearized korean peninsula. and so, i think here again, there is a difference in terms of you around tactics, and so we will continue to work with them to see if we cannot persuade them as to the urgency that we see. i think with respect to china, what our experience with china has been, and i have said this to others, it has been a bit uneven. china has taken significant action, and then i think for a lot of different reasons, they paused and did not take additional action.
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they have taken some steps, and then they paused. in our own view, there are a lot of explanations for why those pauses occur, that we remain -- but we remain very closely engaged with china, both through our dialogues that have occurred face to face, but also on the telephone. we speak very frequently with them about the situation in north korea. so there is a clear understanding between the two of us of our intent, and i think the sanctions action that was taken here just in the last week to 10 days certainly got their attention in terms of their understanding our resolve to bring more pressure to bear on north korea by directly going after entities doing business with north korea, regardless of where they may be located. we continue to make that clear to china, that we would prefer they take actions themselves, and we are still calling on them to do that.
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so i would say, our engagement is unchanged with china, and our expectations are unchanged. >> have you given up hope? secretary tillerson: no, we have not given up hope. in an approach like we are using, and i call it the peaceful pressure campaign, this is a campaign to lead us to a peaceful resolution, because if this fails, we do not have good options left. so it is a peaceful pressure campaign, and it is one that requires calculated increases in pressure, allow the regime to respond to that pressure, and it takes a little time to let these things happen. you know, you enact the pressure, and it takes time for that work through. it will take patience to allow this to move along, but when we talk about our strategic patience, what we mean is, we are not going to sit idly by and will follow this all the way to
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its conclusion. >> mr. secretary, you just mentioned the dprk. we know china and russia recently say they asked north korea to freeze the nuclear activities, and also they asked the u.s. to stop the deployment of our systems. so, did president putin bring up his consent the deployment of our system, and what is the expectation of president trump in tomorrow's meeting with president xi? thank you. secretary tillerson: the subject of that did not come up with president putin. in terms of the progress of north korea and this last missile launch, those are some of the differences of views we
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have between ourselves in terms of tactics, how to do with this. president putin i think has expressed a view not unlike that of china that they would support a freeze for freeze. if we studied the history of the last 25 years, the engagement with various regimes in north korea, this has been done before. and every time it was done, north korea went ahead and proceeded with this program. the problem with freezing now, if we freeze where they are today, we freeze their activities with a very high level of capability. and we do not think it is also setting the right tone for where these talks should begin. so we are asking north korea to be prepared to come to the table with an understanding that these talks are going to be about how do we help you chart a course to cease and role back your nuclear program? that is what we want to talk about.
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we're not interested in talking about how to we have you stop where you are today, because stopping where they are today is not acceptable to us. >> mr. secretary, could you give us a roadmap or did you agree on a next set of talks between the president and mr. putin? and i guess i have kind of a fluffy colored question. we thought this was a 30-minute meeting. it ended up being over two hours and 15 minutes. it was a lot of time for those two leaders to interact. any insights on that, or any update on the -- any resolution of the progress on that? secretary tillerson: the first question, there is no agreed next meeting between the presidents. there are agreed subsequent follow-up meetings between
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various working-level groups at the state department. we agreed to set up a working-level group to it begin -- to begin to explore this framework agreement around the cyber issue and this issue of noninterference. those will be ongoing with various staff levels. >> [indiscernible] secretary tillerson: it will be the state department and the national security advisor's office. as to the nature of the two hours and 15 minutes, that is how we characterized the meeting. it was very constructive. the two leaders i would say connected very quickly. there was a very clear positive chemistry between the two. i think, again, and i think the positive thing i observed -- and i have had many, many meetings with president putin before --
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is there was not a lot of relitigating of the past. both of the leaders feel like there were a lot of that in the past that both of us are unhappy about. the perspective of both of them was this is a really important relationship, the two largest nuclear powers in the world. how do we start making this work? how do we live with one another how do we work with one another? we simply have to find a way to go forward, and i think that was expressed over and over, multiple times. it is a very complicated relationship today because there are so many issues on the table. and one of the reasons it took a long time i think is because once they met and got acquainted
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with one another fairly quickly, there was so much to talk about, all these issues. just about everything got touched upon by one degree or another. and i think there was just such a level of engagement and exchange, neither one of them wanted to stop. several times i had to remind the president, people were sticking their heads in the door, and i think they even sent in the first lady at one point to see if she could get us out of there. that did work either. yes, it is true. [indiscernible] secretary tillerson: well, we went another hour after she came in to see us. so clearly she failed. [laughter] but i think what i am describing, the two hours and 15 minutes, it was an extraordinarily important meeting, and there's so much for us to talk about. and it was a good start. we spent a very, very long period on syria, with a great amount of detail exchange on the agreement we had concluded today.
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it was announced. but also where we go in trying to get much greater clarity around how we see this playing out and how russia sees it playing out. and where do we share a common view and have differences? do we have the same objectives in mind? and i will tell you that, by and large, our objectives are exactly the same. how we get there, we each have a view, but there's a lot more commonality to that than there are differences, so we want to build on the commonality, and we spent a lot of time talking about next steps. and then where there's differences, we have more work to get together and understand. maybe they got the right approach and we got the wrong approach. so there was a substantial amount of time spent on syria, just because we have had so much activity going on with it. >> mr. secretary, would you say if the president was unequivocal
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with his view that russia interfered in election? did he offer any evidence to convince mr. putin? secretary tillerson: the russians have asked for proof and evidence. i will leave that to the intelligence community to address. and again, i think the president at this point pressed him and felt like at this point let's talk about how do we go forward. and i think that was the right place to spend our time, rather than spending a lot of time having a disagreement, that everybody knows we have disagreements. >> thank you, guys, very much, and have a great evening. [applause] [indiscernible] back in the u.s., defense secretary james mattis met with hisri