Here are some of the highlights of the Reuters interview with U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday.
ON HIS DECEMBER TWEET SAYING THE UNITED STATES SHOULD EXPAND ITS NUCLEAR CAPABILITY
"We've fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity. And I am the first one that would like to see ... nobody have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power. And I did tweet that. It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”
ON NEW START DEAL WITH RUSSIA
"It's a one-sided deal like all other deals we make. It’s a one-sided deal. It gave them things that we should have never allowed. ... Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it’s START, whether it’s the Iran deal, which is one of the bad deals ever made. Our country only made bad deals, we don’t make good deals. So we’re going to start making good deals.”
ON RUSSIA'S DEPLOYMENT OF A CRUISE MISSILE IN VIOLATION OF ARMS CONTROL TREATY
“To me, it’s a big deal ... If I meet (Putin), if and when we meet, I would bring it up. It’s a big deal. Because it’s a violation of an agreement that we have.”
ON CHINESE MILITARY ACTIVITY IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA
"I know exactly what's going on between China and North Korea and everybody else. But I don't like talking about military strategy in newspapers ... I'm not liking it. This didn't take place under the Trump administration, this took place under the Obama administration. Many things took place that should not have been allowed. One of them is the building of a massive, you know, massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea. And don't forget I've only been here for four weeks. This is something that took place and has been started three years ago and you were in a much better negotiating position three years ago. I am not happy about it."
ON ALLEGED CURRENCY MANIPULATION BY CHINA
“I think they’re grand champions at manipulation of currency. So I haven’t held back. We’ll see what happens.”
ON CHINA HALTING COAL IMPORTS FROM NORTH KOREA
"Well, we appreciate that. You know, I have a very, very good, I’ve had very good phone calls with the president, President Xi, and I’ve had very, very good talks with him, and the call is a start. But we have a very big problem and a very dangerous problem for the world with North Korea. ... I think China has tremendous control over North Korea. Whether they say so or not is up to them, but they have tremendous control over North Korea. I think they could solve the problem very easily if they want to.”
ON NORTH KOREA'S MISSILE PROGRAM
“It’s very dangerous and something should have been done about it years ago. It’s very dangerous and very unacceptable. ... And very unfair to Japan.”
ON TALK OF ACCELERATING MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM FOR JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA
"There's talks of a lot more than that. We’ll see what happens. But it’s a very dangerous situation, and China can end it very quickly in my opinion. ... It’s one of many things that can be done. Missile defense is one of many things that can be done.”
ON WHETHER MEETING WITH KOREAN LEADER KIM JONG UN IS A POSSIBILITY
“I guess ... I would never say no. It may be very late. It’s very late in the picture right now. ... We’re very angry at what he’s done, and frankly this should have been taken care of during the Obama administration.”
ON THE BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAX PROMOTED BY REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS
“It could lead to a lot more jobs in the United States. ... I certainly support a form of tax on the border because everybody else does. We’re the only country, we’re one of the very few countries, possibly the only country, that has no border tax. And that’s not a tax to the consumer, because that’s going to be a tax to companies and it’s going to be a tax to other countries much more so than it is to the consumer. That’s a tax to other countries. And what will happen is, don’t forget there is no tax if we make our product in the United States. So I don’t consider it a tax. That’s a tax if companies are buying their product outside of the United States. But ... if they make their product in the United States, there is no tax. So what is going to happen is companies are going to come back here, they’re going to build their factories and they’re going to create a lot of jobs and there’s no tax.”
ON THE TARGET FOR THE CORPORATE TAX RATE
“We’re going to have a corporate tax cut ... anywhere from 15 to 20 percent (as a target for the corporate tax rate). ... We're going to have other things that are very good and we’re going to have a tremendous regulatory cut because the regulations are piled up on top of each other and you’ll have many regulations for the same thing within different industries and it’s out of control. The regulations in this country are out of control. And it makes it hard for businesses to even open in the United States. We’re going to get rid of a lot of the unnecessary regulations.”
ON TAX REFORM AND OBAMACARE
"We're going to submit legislation. We’re going to be working with Congress to do legislation, yes. .... We're mandated to do the healthcare first. We have to. And that's for budgetary reasons. So the healthcare will come first. It's moving along really well. I would say before the middle of March. ... We have a very, very good healthcare plan which will give great healthcare to great numbers of people. We have to also remember, Obamacare is a disaster. It doesn't work. It just doesn't work. So we have a plan that will be a far better plan which will cost people less money, which will cost our country less money also 'cause Obamacare is very expensive for the country. And we will be submitting sometime during the month of March. ... It'd be repeal and replace. ... The tax reform comes immediately thereafter."
ON THE ECONOMY AND BUDGET DEFICITS
"The economy, we have close to 100 million people that are not working. We're going to get the economy revving again through meetings like I had today with the biggest companies in the world and the biggest manufacturers in the world, through tax reform, and through regulatory reform, and it will take a little period of time, but yeah, we're going to have, I mean, we had massive deficits under Obama, under President Obama, massive deficits, and until it gets kicked in, there'll be some deficits but something which we can very easily handle."
ON MEXICO AND THE NAFTA TRADE DEAL
"We have a $70 billion trade deficit with Mexico, which is unacceptable. Unacceptable. On top of the $70 billion, many of our jobs and companies have fled to Mexico, and that, and they sell their product back in the United States. It's just not acceptable. So, hopefully, we'll be able to work something out with Mexico, we'll see. Maybe we will, maybe we won't. ... We have the right to do a lot of things that I haven't done yet. We have a lot of rights that people don't know about and they never did know about until I came along."
ON THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION IN ISRAEL
"I like the concept of the two-state solution. People have been talking about it for so many years now, it so far hasn’t worked. But I am satisfied with whatever makes both parties happy."
ON SUPPORTING THE EUROPEAN UNION AS A GOVERNING BODY?
“I do, sure. I have very good relations with the EU. But I thought that the UK would pull out of Brexit and I was right. ... But the EU, I’m totally in favor of it. I think it’s wonderful, if they’re happy. If they’re happy – I’m in favor of it.”
ON NATO MEMBERS PAYING 2 PCT OF GDP FOR THEIR OWN DEFENSE
"Remember the first time I talked about NATO, I said they all owe money? The first time anyone ever asked me a question about NATO ... I said two things: It’s obsolete because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They have now opened up a division to cover terrorism, solely because of me. And experts on NATO that do nothing but study it said, 'You know, Trump is right.' And I knew nothing about NATO, I mean, I knew very little about NATO. ... But you watch what’s going to happen. They’re paying. They’re paying big league. ... They owe a lot of money. Many countries owe a lot money. Number one, 2 percent is a low number, and number two, only five countries are paid up.”
(Compiled by Kieran Murray; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)