tv Amanpour on PBS PBS May 18, 2018 6:00am-6:30am PDT
welcome to amanpour on pbs. tonight, what is the real story behind kim jong-un's threat to pull out of a high stakes summit with president trump? an insider's view on nuclear negotiations from jonathan powell, the former british diplomat and chief negotiator in northern ireland who has been taking his conflict resolutions to pyongyang. he joins me here. plus, tracing the arc of revenge, rivalry and wrath to redemocrat asking rehabilitation. malaysian democrat malaysian democracy hero gives a sensational release from a decade in jail. ♪ ♪
>> good evening, everyone. and welcome to the program. i'm christiane amanpour in london. talk of nobel prizes and a nuke-free korean peninsula are on hold right now as pyongyang threaten s to call off next month's historic talks between chairman kim jong-un and president trump. north korea says that iton't be surrendering to u.s. and their top nuclear negotiator is taking a personal swipe at trump's hawkish national security advisor john bolton, saying, quote, we do not hide our repug nance towards him. so, is this posturing or is it a real signal about what can and cannot be achieved? who better to ask than my first guest tonight, jonathan powell. he was prime minister tony blair's chief of staff and the chief negotiator on the northern island peace process and powell has worked closely with the clinton and bush administrations and knows a thing or two about trying to make peace with your
enemy. for the last six years he's taken those dialogue skills to north korea and he joins me here now. welcome to the program. >> thank you. >> so, you have recently returned in the last couple of months. first and foremost, what mood did you find there? >> well, i think they were very pleased with the success of the step they took in january in reaching out to the south koreans and then the sategy they have unveiled since then has been enormously successful. with the olympics, the charm offensive, reaching out at the southern summit. i think they are feeling quite pleased with themselves with the progress so far. >> and donald trump, how did that come in? >> they were very keen to study donald trump when i was there in december. they were reading art of the deal and wanted to discuss the book and what it showed about the president. when i went back at the beginning of this year, they were reading "fire and fury" all on pbs, not buying the book itself, and trying to discuss what that told them. they are planning carefully. this december, they had a clear strategy. it is all about reaction on the side of the west to their
initiatives. >> so they really are leading this. >> they appear to me to be leading. they appear to have a clear strategy and a series of surprises, things we dent expect. l i think there will be more surprises along the way. >> what is their end game? >> i think what they want to try and do is to negotiate for from a position of strength. they developed their nuclear weapons so they feel they have a nuclear deterrent. they're not begging the united states, they're not begging the south. re prosperous, open up an be t economically, because sanctions and their own economic przemektiveness is a real problem. the regime wants to stay safe. it needs to develop that economy. >> not at any cost, then, right? because, you know, they have just started to say clearly, and you would know better than i, they have been keeping a good eye on what happens in the united states. they watch tv. they have access to satellite channels. and they've just come out with this sort of what people are calling a cold shower overall of this hype. what do you think it is that's made them sort of get back into
the hermit shell? >> as you say, they are very well informed. they are monitoring what is happening in the news in the west. they know what is exactly going on. they saw what was putting them into a position of surrendering. libya is a real red rag or femme. >> what do you mean referring to libya? >> john bolton raised the example of libya what should happen to north korea. every time i've been to north korea in the last six years they raise the case of libya themselves. they talked about gaddafi and say we are not going to end up like gaddafi and end up dead. they are not proposing to do that. if you refer to that's correct they feel you are doing it in order to force them onto the back foot. then using strategic assets, using b-52, and other bombers in the exercise, i think they thought also was outside of the rules because they accepted the exercises, but actually using nuclear assets seems to them a provocation. >> you think it's that part of the -- i was confused because they did seem to accept the, you
know, the idea of annual exercises around these talks, anyway. so you think it's that, the nuclear bit? >> clearly they've got this program of trying to have a rhetorical cease fire. president trump has not been tweeting in an offensive fashion. they they have selves have toned down their rhetoric on the united states, including domestically. if you look at the billboards, they don't have the anti-american aggression. they were in this rhetorical cease fire. they see the libya thing and the strategic asset. they think the other side is trying to push them into a position of surrender. >> according to reports it is clear the trump administration is privately saying to people -- i according to reports, i don't have this firsthand -- they feel that pyongyang has actually surrendered to american might. >> well, i don't think secretary pompeo thinks that. if you look at his interviews and what he's saying, he's being very careful in what he says. he's choosing his words very carefully. he's not putting them on the back foot. he's not saying they're surrendering. he's showing respect to care man kim as he goes in. he's trying --
>> chairman un. >> he's been trying really hard. and i think that's the problem. libya is not in any way a good example. i worked on libya and libya did tave nuclear weapons. lia had some drums in the dese w had cascades in them. they hadn't put them together. even then it took us a long time to get rid of them. nuclear weapons is not something you pull the plug and take it away again. how you take away the knowledge how to make nuclear weapons. >> exactly. former ambassador christopher hill who was the u.s. negotiator during the six-party talks with north korea, he said, you know, in libya we could put all that they had into a two-car garage. it was very little compared to the enormous amount of acreage all over the country that north korea has. so, let's say they do go into a deal. how do you even verify it? there isn't enough inspectors apparently according to the experts. >> i think as a country, this is a huge country with very mountainous terrain and no real roads. how do you get around?
it's t it's enormously difficult to do. nuclear weapons are not something you can get rid of overnight. the suggestion they can be shipped to the united states is nonsense. you have to think about how do you stage it. i'm sure the summit will happen. i'm sure the summit will be a success. when they get into the detail, when they're negotiating on the nitty-gritty, that's where he's going to run into difficulty and you have to have a staged approach when you're getting rid of nuclear weapons. you can't do it immediately. >> on what each side believes to be denuclearization, president trump has said it means they get rid of their weapons, end of story. the north koreans have said it's denuclearization, generally believed to mean comprehensive global denuclearization. some have said it will be a disaster if president trump goes there and expects all maximalist position to win. can i play a couple sound bites from real experts as to the potential differing opinions over denuclearization?
first wendy sherman, the former negotiator. >> it means quite a diffent thing than i think the president of thenited states believes it means. and i don't think for one moment at least at this point that kim jong-un expects to destroy his nuclear weapons. i think he's looking for a very different kind of denuclearization. >> so, do you think that when he talks about denuclearization, that he is prepared under the right circumstances to dismantle, to give up his nuclear weapons? >> i don't believe it at all. the most important thing for kim jong-un right now is to be accepted as the leader of nuclear state. so, that is his priority. that's why kim jong-un actually never said about denuclearization of north korea. >> we really induced north korea to declare that they won't call
for complete denuclearization, comprehensive denuclearization. now, devil is in details, but devil in details should be worked out between president trump and mr. kim jong-un. >> pretty -- >> absolutely. their experts, i'm not an expert in that sense on nuclear issues. i have to say secretary pompeo has been there twice and he seems to be saying that there will be denuclearization. he is someone who is putting his credibility on the line here about this deal. he says that's what's on offer, so we i think should take him at his word. >> the u.s. version of -- >> yes, he knows what the u.s. version is. he knows what the alternative might be. i mean, let's wait and see. as i said there have been a whole sire iz of surprises. maybe we'll be surprised again. if you think about did, nuclear weapons are not a good long-term guarantor of security of north korea. they know the united states could destroy them in one blow. they do not have a second strike capacity. so it's a good way to get into a good negotiating positi.
it's not a long-term strategy for the regime. the regime must have economic growth. they must have security guarantees that keep them safe. they want the american so-called hostile policy to be removed. they get those sort of things, then maybe the real denuclearization, denuclearization, we mean possible. all the experts have been wrong every step since november. maybe they're wrong on this. >> let's hope the summit does in fact take place. talk is better than war, right? but what happens to the north koreans? are they looking at what donald trump has done about the iran deal? does it even matter to them? does it affect their faith or whatever, trust in any kind of deal the united states might come up with with them? >> no. every time i go and talk to the north koreans, i raise iran and talk about the example. please don't talk to us about iran. we're not iran. iran does not have a nuclear weapon, iran does not have an icbm. we are completely different. we don't care about what happens in iran. we care about our example. when i talk to iran they say the
same about north korea. >> i want to switch tacts a little bit. you've been at the british embassy in the u.s., you've made relationships with all sorts of administrations going back to president clinton. and it has been reported that you instructed then ambassador christopher mayer in his appointment as british ab, get at the white house and stay there. do you stand by that comment? >> well, i didn't make the comment. christopher's memory is somewhat -- that very much sounds like christopher's language. what i would have told them was to hug the americans close, close to the americans. that is one of the tragedies of our foreign policy. we have abandoned one pillar of e ited stes and one pillar of the european union. we have neither pi. that is why we are condemned to fficult as you say to punch ship above your weight as you've always done by having these two pillars. i want to ask you about hugging close, then.
you've seen president macron has taken that advice. he hugged very close. >> literally. >> was that too literally? was a safe political place for a european ally to be, hugging donald trump very close? >> clearly what president macron tried to do was trade on the personal relationship to do the hugging and then to make a speech in congress where he berated the president on environmental issues, on nuclear issues and so on. it didn't seem to work on iran because the president still left iranian deal. he tried. i think it is a sensible policy of him to try and reach out to trump. he understands the personal relationship works with the president. that is a sensible thing to try and do. it didn't work this this case, maybe it will work later on. maybe he's got some investment that will help sway the united states to change its mind on crucial issues. >> really fascinating stuff. jonathan powell, thank you for your insights. >> thank you. >> thank you for being here. now, switching to another really important part of the world, all the way still in asia, shakespeare meets southeast asia. my next guest is malaysia's
long-time opposition hero anwar ibrahim. he has an incredible story. it is an intrigue-filled story of political rivalry and redemption that might even make the bar blush. a crusade of reform and democracy in this vital corner of the world has spent more than a decade in prison since his mentor turned tormenter threw him to the wolves on charges of corruption and homosexuality which is still illegal there. last week the very same man, 92-year-old muhammad won another election by promising to spring anwar from jail. he is now free proclaiming a new era for pau malaysia, suggesting he has forgiven him for the trumped up charges, and warning his zeal for cleaning up after what america calls the largest cleptography case, we found him to be about as happy as a school boy when he joined me earlier from koala aluminum par. anwar ibrahim, welcome to
the program. a freeman at last. >> thank you, a privilege. >> how do you feel? this is the second time you've been in and out of the long spell in what you call trumped up charges. how does it feel to be out this time? >> exhilarating. from the prison to the palace, invited by the king to tell me that this justice, i am giving the full pardon because i believe you are innocent and these conspiracy matter ends. >> that's really remarkable because obviously it was the king who had to grant you this pardon. nobody else could. but what's really remarkable, mr. anwar -- >> yes. >> -- is this turn around from your mentor, mahatia muhammad who was elected again who ran on a platform to get you freed, who
was the one to put you in jail. what's going on? >> right. well, he came, met me in court and said, look, let's move on. we have a problem in this country, blatantly corrupt najib, the system is crumbling. can we work together? i was very apprehensive, but i was polite, thanking him for the visit and said that i would think it over. and send my friends to talk to him. i'll only work on the reform agenda. if he's committed in writing to work together to reform the institution in this country so the transformation towards democracy is done. >> you say that you want to reform the system and keep politics out of the jtice system. you yourself say youe been victim of a politicized justice
system and the politics of political revenge. so, let me read to you what mohammed said in the late '90s when you were fired. he said, i cannot accept a man who is a sodom ist as leader of the country. and you have said that you forgive him. do you actually forgive him? how can you forgive him and trust him after all that he has done to you? >> mohammed has said repeatedly that he was misled. he did not take action. it was the ploy of some others. while it may not sound convincing, he said he made a mistake. he should not have dismissed anwar from office and it was a blunder on his part. i think i have to then to decide whether to stick to the old enmity or move on. for the sake of malaysia, once he's committed to the reform
agenda and the entire team selected from those reformists, i am quite confident that he remains committed and we will continue to monitor. i said, i do not intend to serve in the cabinet. i will continue to function effectively as a voice of conscience for democracy, including independent judiciary. >> you say that you need to move on and he needs to move on, but i wonder if you can move on from what you said about him 20 years ago. you know, when he fired you, you basically unleashed a massive political -- i see you laughing. you unleashed a massive political movement against him. you called him insane, senile, and unfit to lead. okay, senile, that was 20 years ago. he's now 92 years old. do you take back those words? do think it's still true? >> well, i meant it. of course, it was a response to his trumped up charges, the
continued -- incessant propaganda in the media, calling me an agent and medical agent, cia agent, sodomy, et cetera. i have to mount an effective challenge towards him. and -- but, you know, in the last year or so he has been totally committed to fighting the excesses of the government. and he realizes now, being out of the government, being in the opposition, how the media, the judiciary, the entire enforcement agencies were used against him. >> you know, people remember him when he first came to power. you know, it's under his rule that the asian tiger sprang to life, that malaysia became a real player in your region. it's crumbling a little bit with all the corruption allegations and all of that, but i wonder if
he can get over some of the very controversial sayings and thoughts that he has had in his political life. for instance, let us play this sound bite of what he said about, you know, some of his rather zany world views. let me play this view. it's from 2003. >> the day they use rule this world by proxy. they get others to fight and die for them. >> well, that's his version of what he thinks about jews around the world, you know, the typical nazi-era conspiracy theories. i mean, he says some very, very insulting things to a wide range of people. does he still hold those views? >> well, he has alienated a lot of friends in the process because h was angry, the fact at many of them did lend support for me. i don't share that view or his condemnation of racist or
anti-semitic expressions. i could only say that in the -- from the reports from aziza, my wife who is leading the party -- our party, and now in the coalition, clearly he has avoided completely these sort of comments and he has stuck to the reform agenda. he has said, for example, the anticorruption agency must be independent. the judiciary must be free. the media must be free. you can see the media these days, although the euphoria, so i don't believe to be fair you could pick on his past statements, although i do not frankly share those outbursts. >> you just mentioned aziza your wife. and, of course, she is the party leader and your daughter is also a leading politician. there are some in the west, some human rights organizations, who
wonder whether if you become either in the cabinet or if mahatia hands over to you as you said he wants to in two years, whether they can continue their top political role, or would it be a conflict of interest? >> firstly, i have declined any position in the government. i want to be free, working with the party and the leadership, but not to hold office. my daughter, who happens to be the most senior second most senior leader in the party has also declined, has opted not to function, be a member of the cabinet partly because aziza is already a deputy prime minister. now, in the event i assume the office of prime minister, naturally aziza would step down. so, i don't think that is frankly an issue. aziza had to fight all these years, particularly the 10 1/2 years of my incarceration, and
she deserves to be where she is. and my daughter was not given special treatment. she had to struggle. she lost time as a tunisia. she had to struggle, of course, to fight for the freedom of her father, but for democracy. and i think we have achieved that. >> anwar, i'm going to hold you what you just said about aziza your wife. really, she has to step down? are we in a new pro-women civilizational moment? why can't she hold on to leadership? >> well, she can, but that happens to be the consensus of party leaders. she knows that. and you know the king said one thing which is remarkable. the king repeated five times, he says, anwar, you have such a wonderful wife. you must never forget that fact. >> i hope she won't let you forget it. >> she struggled in your defense. and when i offered her -- the king actually offered her the
premiership because she is leader of the party and the candidate contested using our party symbol, so she was given the first option and she declined, saying that this was our understanding, to put mohammed first. and then she said when asking the king, what do you want, my only request is the freedom of my husband. isn't that amazing, christiane? >> it is amazing. yes, it is amazing. what was it like all those years in prison? >> that full experience, no media, no tv, no radio, no newspaper. i was allowed to read books so i was an avid reader of virtually everything i can find. chinese philosophy, american history or islam or hinduism, whatever. never the classics, reading the
shakespeare. i was kept busy, very busy, preoccupied reading. >> and you have emerged into the full glaring sunlight of the trump presidency and the new world order. how do you assimilate -- how do you assess the trump effect on the world and what it might mean for your country? >> well, the foreign policy position of the united states, something not effective to me, which is unfortunately showing very l little regard for the ne for reform of democracy or transformation. but i think now it takes these countries -- what has happened in the malaysian experience is very pertinent, significant in the sense that we can now show, after years of despair, after
the spring, there can be an effective experiment towards democracy through the ballot box. and then with this mandate, to fight excesses or extremism or fanaticism and grow multi cultural vie ambulance and democracy in malaysia. i think that is our focus. in terms of our relationship with foreign countries, particularly the muslim countries. >> anwar ibrahim, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you, christiane. >> anwar ibrahim, free from jail and free from the poison of revenge, committed to reforming his country. that is it for our program tonight. join us again tomorrow night when we de-camp to windsor castle as we, too, succumb to the most british of things, royal wedding fever. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪