Transcript: Barbara Walters Interviews the Obamas

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President on North Korea

BARBARA WALTERS: Mr. President, North Korea is getting more aggressive by the day. Beyond struggling, we did condemnation and sanctions, which haven't seemed to work. What exactly can you do about it?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well as you said, this is a…just one more provocative incident in a series that we have seen over the last several months. …We have strongly condemned the attack, as you mentioned. And we are rallying the international community once again to put pressure on North Korea. …We want to make sure that all the parties in the region recognize that this is a serious and ongoing threat that has to be dealt with.

BARBARA WALTERS: China?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, China is a country that has influence on North Korea -- one of the few. I have communicated before and will communicate again to China that it's important that they stand firm and make clear to North Korea that there are a set of international rules that they need to abide by.

BARBARA WALTERS: Is an attack on South Korea an attack on the U.S.?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: South Korea is our ally it has been since the Korean War, and we strongly affirm our commitment to defend South Korea as part of that alliance.

BARBARA WALTERS: Will we perhaps send warships, or are we to put U.S. troops on alert?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, that would be… and I am not gonna speculate on military actions on this point. I want to consult with President Lee, but as I said before, this is one of our most important alliances along with our alliance with Japan. This is the cornerstone of U.S. security in the Pacific region.

BARBARA WALTERS: You know, we have talked about Afghanistan in the past, and we'll continue to.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Right.

BARBARA WALTERS: And now we hear that by 2014, we hope that we can turn things over to the Afghan people.

BARBARA WALTERS: Will by 2014, we will have accomplished our mission? We will have what we call "victory"?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, hmmm, you know, in, in this day and age, when you are dealing with not nation states but a bunch of thugs -- a bunch of shadowy networks of terrorists -- you never get a day when you declare victory. And you have to be persistent, you have to be relentless…how that plays itself out is something that's gonna be determined in part by our success over the next several years, not just on the military front, but also on the political front, making sure that all parties in the region, all actors in the region, recognize this is not just a threat to us but, uh, a threat to them as well.

BARBARA WALTERS: On this holiday weekend, one of the questions that people are asking is, "Did we need the kind of patdown that we have had at the airport?"

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Right.

BARBARA WALTERS: What do you think? Has it gone too far?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This, this is gonna be something that evolves, we are gonna have to work on it. Well, hopefully technologies will improve where, uh, there are other ways of approaching it. I understand people's frustrations with it, but I also know that if you know, if there was an explosion in the air that killed a couple of hundred people…and it turned out that we could have prevented it possibly… that would be something that you know, well would be pretty upsetting to most of us -- including me.

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BARBARA WALTERS: By many accounts, your wife is more popular than you are.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Mm-hmm.

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