Remarks by President Trump and President El-Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt Before Bilateral Meeting | Biarritz, France (Excerpts)

August 26, 2019

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • Egypt
  • France

Hotel du Palais
Biarritz, France

8:52 A.M. CEST

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  It’s a great honor to be with President El-Sisi, who’s a friend of mine for now a long time, it seems, right?  From even before the campaign.



Q    Do you have any response to Foreign Minister Zarif being here yesterday?  Were you surprised that he was here?


Q    And did you talk about — did you meet with him?  Did anyone from the U.S. government meet with him?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  No, I don’t want to comment on that.  But he was here, and we’ll see what happens with Iran.  But you called it wrong in the media last night.  I like to at least tell you when you call — and I’ll tell you when you call it right, too, which isn’t too often.

Q    Some of your allies, though, are saying that it was disrespectful for Macron to invite Zarif —

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  No, just the opposite.

Q    — or that it was disrespectful to the U.S.


Q    You don’t feel that way?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  He asked my approval.  President Macron asked my — we have a very good relationship.  Look — you know, that’s another thing you got wrong.

I mean, we had — this was the best meeting we’ve had with President Macron, in France.  It was straight up — now, we’re not finished yet.  We have another, sort of, a day left.  We have a lot of meetings, including with the President of Egypt, which I’m looking forward to.  And I’m meeting with Angela Merkel in a little while.  And we’re meeting with a few others.  And we have some very important meetings planned, plus we have some sessions.  And then we’ll have a news conference if you so choose.

Q    Mr. President —

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  But on the Macron — no, no, that was — he spoke to me.  He asked me.  I said, “If you want to do that, that’s okay.”  I don’t consider that disrespectful at all, especially when he asked me for approval.


Q    When did President Macron tell you he was going to invite the —

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I don’t want to comment on that.  But I knew he was coming in and I respected the fact that he was coming in.  And he met with President Macron.  And Iran has got a very difficult situation.  They’re in a position that’s not a very good position from the standpoint of economics.  And that’s okay, because we can clear that up very quickly.

I’m looking to have a really good Iran, really strong.  We’re not looking for regime change.  You’ve seen how that works over the last 20 years.  That hasn’t been too good.  And we’re looking to make — make Iran rich again.  Let’s — let them be rich.  Let’s let them do well, if they want, or they can be poor as can be.  They can be like they are now.

And I’ll tell you what: I don’t think it’s acceptable, the way they’re being forced to live in Iran.  And what we want is very sim- — it’s got to be non-nuclear.  It’s got to be non-nuclear.  We’re going to talk about ballistic missiles.  We’re going to talk about timing.  We’re going to talk about the length of the agreement, which, as you know, it expires in a very short period of time.

I mean, the agreement that President Obama made expires in a very short period of time.  What kind of agreement is that?  He paid $150 billion for a short-term agreement.  He’d like to have $150 billion for a short — he’ll do — he’ll do that deal.

Plus, he gave them $1.8 billion in cash.  Where’s your finance minister?  Finance minister?  Which one?


PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Okay, explain to him, one hundred — $1.8 billion in cash.  Will you take it?  Egypt will take it.

Q    Mr. President, what’s the next step, then, with Iran, from your perspective?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, we’ll see what happens.  You know, it’s all very new.  They’re under a lot of financial stress.  We put sanctions.  Secretary of the Treasury is here right now.  And he’s, really, very expert at what he does.  And he’s done a very effective job.


Q    But with regard to Iran?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  And as far as Iran is concerned, that was with great respect.  And I spoke to President Macron yesterday, and I knew everything he was doing, and I approved whatever he was doing.  And I thought it was fine.  And I think it’s too soon to meet.  I didn’t want to meet.  I said, “I don’t want to meet right now.”  But it’s soon going to be time to meet with Iran, and it’s going to be a great thing for Iran.  They have a great potential.

Iran has great potential.  And you know who else has great potential?  North Korea.  Kim Jong Un.  And under his leadership, North Korea has great potential.  And I don’t think North Korea wants to blow it.  Because if they blow it, it won’t be good.

Q    You didn’t want to meet with Zarif, but did you send a message to him on Iran at all?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I don’t want to comment on that.  I can’t comment on that.


Q    And on Iran, sir, are you willing to waive oil sanctions in order to get Iran to the table?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I’m not going to tell you what I’m willing to do.  But Iran has a chance to really build themselves up and be a very great nation — greater than before.  But they have to stop terrorism.  That is your number-one nation of terror.  Now, not in the last year and half, two years, because they can’t spend like they used to spend.

They took President Obama’s $150 billion and they doled it out to terrorists all over the place.  I think they’re going to change.  I really do.  I believe they have a chance to be a very special nation.  I hope that’s true.