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Cabinet Room

11:37 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, thank you very much.  We have a lot of things happening, as you know.  But last night was a very big night for the Republican Party.  Every candidate that we wanted won, and they did very well.  There was tremendous enthusiasm.

And with the economy going so strong and so good with all of the things that are happening, including a tremendous foreign affairs picture.  If you look at what’s going on with so many different elements, including the fact that, right now, flying back are three, what they were calling “hostages.”  We call them “fine people.”  Three really fine people.  Seemed to be healthy.

They’ll be landing at two o’clock in the morning at Andrews Air Force Base, and I’ll be there to greet them.  Mike will be with me.  It will be, I think, a very special time — because nobody thought this was going to happen.  And if it did, it would be years or decades, frankly.  Nobody thought this was going to happen.  And I appreciate Kim Jong-un doing this and allowing them to go.

We’ve picked a time.  We’ve picked a place for the meeting, or “summit,” as you like to call it.  And I think it’ll be very successful.  But as I always say, “Who knows?”  Who knows what’s going to happen.  But it’s going to be a very important event.

Again, I think this is something that nobody thought was going to happen for years or more.  And I really believe it’s going to be a great thing for North Korea, a great thing for South Korea and Japan.  I want to thank President Xi.  He was very helpful to us two days ago on something very specific.  President Xi of China.  China has been very helpful.

And we’re working trade with China.  And they’re doing okay because they’re helping us, and I guess they’re probably doing a little bit better because they’re helping us.  But they have really helped us on North Korea.  We appreciate it and we appreciate President Xi.

I just spoke to President Moon and explained what was taking place with respect to the three gentlemen.  And President Moon of South Korea was very, very happy to hear it.  He, likewise, has been incredibly helpful.

So the relationships we have with Prime Minister Abe, President Moon, President Xi, I think it all goes into what is taking place right now.  And we very much look forward to having the meeting between the United States and North Korea.  And that will be announced over the next couple of days as to timing.

We have a lot of things going on within our country.  We’ve very much toughened up the border, but the laws are horrible.  The laws in this country for immigration and illegal immigration are absolutely horrible.  And we have to do something about it — not only the wall, which we’re building sections of wall right now.  We have $1.6 billion.  We’re fixing a lot of wall that basically is non-existent because it’s been ripped to pieces.  It was poorly built and it wasn’t — it was really only temporary, in some cases.

San Diego has asked us to go forward with their section of the wall in California.  And rather than not doing that and letting them lobby for us with Governor Brown, we decided to do it.  And we’ll have a little bit less of a lobby, but we’ll have a lot of people happy in San Diego.

We have, I think, the numbers coming out from the economy.  And you’re seeing what’s going on; they’re extraordinary.  The stock market is up almost 35 percent from the election, but I think companies are doing even better than that, and they’re really ready to rock.

The conference we had yesterday was a very important one.  You look at the deal that we had with Iran, it was a one-sided deal that ultimately was going to lead to nuclear proliferation all over the Middle East.  And they were talking about it; other countries were talking about it.  It was going to lead to that.  They are all very happy at what I did.  That was a one-sided deal that we spent $150 billion and $1.8 billion in cash on getting done.  And it was not good, and it was not appropriate.

And we’ll see how we do with Iran.  Probably, we won’t do very well with them, but that’s okay too.  They’ve got to understand life, because I don’t think they do understand life.  If you look at what’s happening in the Middle East with Syria, with Yemen, with all of the places they’re involved, it’s bedlam and death.  And we can’t allow that to happen.

So we have terminated a terrible, terrible deal that should have never, ever been made.  And we will be putting on among the strongest sanctions that we’ve ever put on a country.  And they’re going into effect very shortly.  They’re mostly constituted and drawn already, and we’ll just have to see what happens.

But we can’t allow a deal to hurt the world.  That’s a deal to hurt the world; that’s not a deal for the United States.  That’s a deal to hurt the world and, certainly, Israel.  You saw Benjamin Netanyahu get up yesterday and talk so favorably about what we did.

Some of the senators, I watch them now as they say, “Oh, he shouldn’t have done it.”  But they don’t say it — the Democratic senators — they don’t say with their full throat; they don’t say it with heart.  Because they have one problem: They were totally against it.  Like Chuck Schumer was totally against the deal.  He voted against the deal.  He was fighting with Obama.  In fact, I remember reading at the time they ended up in a fight together over this deal because he wanted to protect Israel.  And he knows this deal is very bad for Israel and very bad for the Middle East.  But I know that they voted against it, and then you’ll see Chuck Schumer say, “Oh, he shouldn’t have ended the deal.”  It’s like, oh — perhaps he changed his mind.  But, by the way, the deal only got worse.

So we have a lot of exciting things happening, and I think that’s going to be an exciting thing.  And perhaps — and Iran will never say it because they’re great negotiators.  Kerry never had a chance against the gentleman he was negotiating with.  The first time I saw that man, I watched him on a certain show — a show of an anchor who is no longer with us.  He was taken down.  But it was an interesting show.  And I looked at him, and after about three minutes of watching the show, I said, “There’s no way that Kerry can negotiate against this gentleman.”  And that turned out to be a fact.

So we’re going to make either a really good deal for the world, or we’re not going to make a deal at all.  And Iran will come back and say, “We don’t want to negotiate.”  And of course, they’re going to say that.  And if I were in their position, I’d say that, too, for the first couple of months, “We’re not going to negotiate.”  But they’ll negotiate, or something will happen.  And hopefully that won’t be the case.

So I just want to let you know the United States is strong.  Our military is in a position that we haven’t had in a long time.  We have $700 billion approved and $716 billion for next year, numbers that we’ve never had before.  We’re rebuilding our military to a level that it’s, frankly, never been.  And these are good times to have a strong military, and hopefully we’ll never have to use it.  You know, peace through strength, which I believe in very strongly.

So we’re honored by the fact that the three gentlemen are coming home, and I look forward to seeing you — probably, some of you, maybe a lot of you.  It’ll be two o’clock in the morning.  It’ll be quite a scene, and it’ll be — to me, it’s very exciting because it represents something.  It represents something very important to this country.

People never thought a thing like this could happen and can.  People never thought you were going to have a situation where we’re having serious and positive communication with North Korea, and we are.  What happens?  Who knows.  We have a chance at something really great for the world and great for North Korea, and great for everyone.

So I want to thank you all for being here, and we will see you at two o’clock in the morning.  We’re very excited.

Q    When is the summit going to take place?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re going to announce that in three days, Jon.  Within three days.

Q    Within three days?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re just working arrangements.

Q    Will it be the DMZ?

THE PRESIDENT:  It will not be there, no.

Q    Do you deserve the Nobel Prize, do you think?

THE PRESIDENT:  Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it.  (Laughter.)  You know what I want to do?  I want to get it finished.  The prize I want is victory for the world, not for even here.  I want victory for the world.  Because that’s what we’re talking about.  So that’s the only prize I want.

Q    Could something still scuttle this meeting, the summit?

THE PRESIDENT:  Everything can be scuttled.  Everything can be scuttled.  Doesn’t mean — a lot of things can happen.  A lot of good things can happen, a lot of bad things can happen.  I believe that we have — both sides want to negotiate a deal.  I think it’s going to be a very successful deal.  I think we have a really good shot at making it successful.  But lots of things can happen.  And, of course, you’ll be the first to know about it if it fails.

But I think we have a really good chance to make a great deal for the world.  Thank you very much.

Q    What are you going to do if Iran starts up their nuclear program again?

THE PRESIDENT:  Iran will find out.  They’re going to find out.  I don’t think they should do that.  I would advise Iran not to start their nuclear program.  I would advise them very strongly.

If they do, there will be very severe consequence.  Okay?

Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.


11:49 A.M. EDT