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Trump doubts Russia involved in hacking United States election

US President-elect Donald Trump once again said Russia was not involved in hacking the US presidential election. Trump also said he was open to meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. US President-elect Donald Trump again denied Russia hacked the US presidential election before celebrating New Year at his Florida estate. "Well I just want them to be sure, because it's a pretty serious charge, and I want them to be sure," said Trump. Trump added US intelligence was incorrect when it said Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, a part of what lead to a US invasion of Iraq in 2003. He called the invasion "a disaster, and they were wrong." Trump said it was unfair to accuse Russia of hacking if there is doubt, saying he knows "a lot about hacking" and "it could be somebody else." "I also know things that other people don't know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation," said Trump, telling reporters they would find out Tuesday or Wednesday what he knew about hacking. US intelligence agencies CIA and FBI agree that Russia intervened in the November US presidential election. Trump secured the electoral college vote, while Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for vowing not to expel US diplomats after the US expelled 35 last week. Hacking during the campaign hit the Democratic party hard, and the party blamed Russia for an attack in August. Trump noted he was open to meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. The two exchanged a controversial phone call after Trump's victory, breaking more than three decades of the "one-China" policy. "I'm not meeting with anybody until after January 20th because it's a little bit inappropriate from a protocol standpoint. But we'll see," said Trump, who becomes president on January 20. As for his New Year's resolution, he harped his campaign slogan: Make America great again.

US President-elect Donald Trump once again said Russia was not involved in hacking the US presidential election. Trump also said he was open to meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. US President-elect Donald Trump again denied Russia hacked the US presidential election before celebrating New Year at his Florida estate. “Well I just want them to be sure, because it’s ... Read More »

Kerry: Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution ‘now in jeopardy’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry "deeply disappointing" and "anti-Israel." Berlin said the speech was a "call to action" for a two-state solution" for peace. Outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry laid out parameters for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during a speech in Washington on Wednesday, saying the US could not stay silent while Israel continues to build illegal settlements. "Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy," he said. "We cannot, in good conscience, do nothing, and say nothing, when we see the hope of peace slipping away." Kerry's remarks come just weeks before the Obama administration hands over power to President-elect Donald Trump, who on Wednesday reiterated his support for Israel over the settlement issue. Kerry also attempted to answer to Israel's fury over Washington's decision last week not to veto a UN resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal under international law. Kerry's final endeavor Kerry warned that expanding settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem was leading to an "irreversible one-state reality." He added that it was happening despite polls showing that most Israelis support the creation of a separate Palestinian state. "The truth is that trends on the ground - violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation - are destroying hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want," Kerry said. Washington's most senior diplomat reiterated that despite recent differences in policy, the US continued to be Israel's closest ally. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Kerry's speech had been "deeply disappointing" and "anti-Israel." Netanyahu went on to say that Israel was looking forward to working with Trump "to mitigate the damage this resolution has done and ultimately repeal it." One of his ministers earlier dismissed Kerry's remarks as "pathetic" and "anti-democratic." Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel's Army Radio that the Obama administration was attempting to tie Trump to positions that are difficult to change. Erdan insisted that the Middle East had become more chaotic under Obama, especially in Syria and Iraq. More than 130 Israeli settlements, built on lands occupied by Israel since 1967, currently house around 630,000 Jewish people. The settlements remain one of the more vexing issues between Israelis and Palestinians. Abbas 'ready to resume peace talks' Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed Kerry's remarks, saying he was convinced peace was still achievable but only if Israel halts its settlement building. Abbas also said last week's UN resolution would underpin any future negotiations. "The minute the Israeli government agrees to cease all settlement activities... the Palestinian leadership stands ready to resume permanent status negotiations on the basis of international law and relevant international legality resolutions ... under a specified time frame," he said in a statement. The last round of US-backed peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine broke down in 2014, with President Barack Obama blaming both sides for the collapse in talks. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also welcomed Kerry's speech, rebuking any attacks directed by the Israeli government. Germany's top diplomat said his US counterpart's speech served as both a "warning" and a "call to action." "It was a warning that a two-state solution cannot be allowed to become an empty phrase, and a call for both sides to take the necessary steps towards fostering such a two-state solution," he said. Speaking out against Netanyahu's criticisms, the foreign minister also praised his "friend" John Kerry for "working tirelessly since becoming secretary of state to foster a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." New settlements approved On Wednesday, despite attempts to delay a local housing committee from approving plans to build 492 new homes in annexed east Jerusalem, the construction was later given the go-ahead, a local non-profit organization said. For his part in a worsening row, Trump took to Twitter ahead of Kerry's speech on Wednesday to say: "Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!" referring to his upcoming inauguration. The businessman said Obama had treated Israel with "total disdain and disrespect," adding that "they used to have a great friend in the US, but not anymore." Netanyahu praised Trump for his support in a tweet, thanking him for his "warm friendship and...clear-cut support for Israel." Trump's pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, opposes a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian situation and has publicly stated that Israel's settlement activity is not illegal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry “deeply disappointing” and “anti-Israel.” Berlin said the speech was a “call to action” for a two-state solution” for peace. Outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry laid out parameters for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during a speech in Washington on Wednesday, saying ... Read More »

Obama and Trump look to clear the air as cracks appear in ‘smooth’ transition

A simmering dispute between President Barack Obama and his incoming successor Donald Trump looked destined to boil over. However, a call from the President appears to have at least momentarily eased tensions for now. Tensions between US President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama have been growing as the president has become more outspoken about a vitriol-filled election. Comments from Trump on Wednesday brought those differences of opinion to light. Trump accused Obama of attempting to derail the US transition of power with "inflammatory" remarks had spurred the president to pick up the phone and resolve risked becoming a very public spat. Trump tweeted Wednesday: "Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks. Thought it was going to be a smooth transition - NOT!" The president-elect appeared to be irked by Obama's recent remarks that he would have defeated the Republican candidate in this year's election, were he not constitutionally barred from running for a third term. Trump also vociferously took issue with the US' decision last week to allow a UN Security Council resolution decrying Israel's settlement program to pass. We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect," Trump tweeted. "They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but ... not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!" Earlier, the outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry had criticized Israel for its settlement-building and accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's regimes of jeopardizing a two-state solution with Palestine. Obama's statements that the US would take steps to counter Russian hacking are also at odds with hits Trump has made on his potential future ties with Moscow. Contrary to the assessment of the US intelligence agencies, Trump had said he did not believe Russia was behind the hacking of the US Democratic Party. Tensions cool However, Trump later distanced himself from his statements, saying the transition process was going "very, very smoothly" and that he and Obama had what he described as "a very nice conversation... appreciated that he called." Speaking outside of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Trump said: "I actually thought we covered a lot of territory. Our staffs have been getting along very well and I'm getting along very well with him other than a couple of statements that I responded to." When asked about Obama's comments, the real estate mogul-turned-commander-in-chief-in-waiting said they both laughed about it and that "nobody is ever going to know because we are never going to be going against each other." White House spokesman Eric Schultz described the call as "positive and focused on continuing a smooth and effective transition," adding that two men planned to remain in touch over the coming weeks. After exchanging multiple insults during this year's heated presidential campaign, Obama and Trump have sought to put political differences aside in favor of a united public front before Trump takes office on January 20. In a landmark meeting in the Oval Office a few days after Trump's election victory over Democrat Hilary Clinton, Obama congratulated Trump on a historic electoral win and expressed that millions of Republican voters would suffer should the incoming president overturns Obama's health care law. Who's to thank for the economy Both men have also taken credit for improving US economic indicators. While Trump has long berated the US economy under Obama, he sought kudos late on Tuesday for a number of economic developments, though economists have said the improvements are part of a continuing trend that started before Trump won the election. More than 2 million jobs have been added to the US job market in the last 12 months alone, a sign of positive economic growth pre-dating Trump's election triumph. "The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index for December surged nearly four points to 113.7, THE HIGHEST LEVEL IN MORE THAN 15 YEARS! Thanks Donald," Trump tweeted. Trump also heralded news that US mobile carrier Sprint was moving 5,000 jobs "back" to the US "because of me." It remains unclear whether Trump was referencing a commitment Sprint owner and Japanese tech billionaire Masayoshi Son reportedly made with the president-elect earlier this month to create 50,000 jobs in the US. Sprint's Chief Executive, Marcelo Claure, has said he and the company look forward to working with Trump.

A simmering dispute between President Barack Obama and his incoming successor Donald Trump looked destined to boil over. However, a call from the President appears to have at least momentarily eased tensions for now. Tensions between US President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama have been growing as the president has become more outspoken about a vitriol-filled election. Comments from ... Read More »

Trump vows to dissolve controversial charitable foundation

US President-elect Donald Trump's foundation is currently under investigation for suspect practices. The announcement comes as part of Trump's efforts to eliminate any conflicts of interest before he takes office. With less then a month to go until his inauguration, Donald Trump said on Saturday that he intends to shut his controversial charitable entity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation. The billionaire businessman said he had directed his attorney "to take the steps needed to close the charity." "The foundation has done enormous good works over the years in contributing millions of dollars to countless worthy groups, including supporting veterans, law enforcement officers and children," Trump said in a statement. "I will be devoting so much time and energy to the presidency and solving the many problems facing our country and the world. I don't want to allow good work to be associated with a possible conflict of interest," he added. Trump said he will pursue philanthropic efforts through other means, but didn't elaborate on exactly how he intended to do so. Legal investigation The Donald J. Trump Foundation has been subject to investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman since September this year. The inquiry seeks to ensure that the foundation is complying with New York state charity laws. A month later, Schneidermann ordered the foundation to stop fundraising in New York state, saying it wasn't registered to do so. The organization complied. The investigation was prompted by reports of transactions that came to light in recent months. Among them was a story from the "Washington Post" which cited tax records showing that Trump had not donated to his foundation since 2008. The US daily also reported that the foundation spent $20,000 (19, 134 euros) meant for charity to buy a 1.8-metre-tall painting of Trump. In 2013, the foundation also donated $25,000 to Pam Bondi the attorney general of Florida, just days after reports emerged that she was considering filing fraud charges against Trump University. Trump has denied any connection between the money and the attorney general, however, with Bondi later deciding not to pursue an investigation. No legal dissolution Amy Spitalnick, press secretary for Schneiderman's office, said on Saturday that the Donald J. Trump Foundation "cannot legally dissolve" until the investigation is complete. The private charitable organisation was founded by Trump in 1987 with money earned from his best-selling book, "The Art of the Deal." Until around 2005, the foundation was largely financed by Trump himself. For the past decade, however, it has been funded almost exclusively by donations from friends and associates of the president-elect. According to the foundation's most recent filing with the Internal Revenue Service in 2014, the organization claimed assets of some $1,273,895.

US President-elect Donald Trump’s foundation is currently under investigation for suspect practices. The announcement comes as part of Trump’s efforts to eliminate any conflicts of interest before he takes office. With less then a month to go until his inauguration, Donald Trump said on Saturday that he intends to shut his controversial charitable entity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation. The ... Read More »

Trump considering Petraeus for secretary of state post

The retired general is in contention for the secretary of state position after he and Donald Trump held lengthy talks on Monday. Petraeus will have to shrug off the 2012 scandal that forced him to resign as CIA director. Retired General David Petraeus entered the running to become secretary of state under President-elect Donald Trump, after the two held talks on Monday. Exiting Trump Tower in New York City, Petraeus said he and Trump spoke for an hour. He praised the President-elect for showing a "great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there." "Very good conversation and we'll see where it goes from here," Petraeus said. He did not respond to questions asking whether Trump had offered him a position in his administration. Petraeus led international forces in the US-led interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. After retiring as general, he served as CIA director in 2011-12 but was forced to resign after sharing highly classified information with his biographer, with whom he was having an affair. The scandal tarnished the four-star general's reputation. However, a source close to the transition team said this was unlikely to be obstacle to Trump offering him a government post. Trump tweeted shortly after the meeting: "Just met with General Petraeus-was very impressed!" A source advising the transition team on national security told news agency Reuters that: "Just based on his public statements, I think [Trump] sees Petraeus as a good man who made a mistake, who did a fraction of what other people have done and received a lot more punishment." Romney, Corker and Giuliani also in contention Trump is scheduled to hold talks with a number of other contenders for the top diplomat position in the coming days. On Tuesday, he is set to meet with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Vice President-elect Mike Pence is believed to be favoring Romney for the secretary of state position, despite him being fiercely critical of Trump during the presidential campaign. He and Trump had already discussed a potential cabinet position during a lengthy meeting earlier this month. A source close to the transition team said that it appeared Trump had settled on appointing Romney for the top diplomat post. However, Petraeus' appearance at Trump Tower suggests the president-elect is still undecided on the position. Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is believed to have warned Trump that appointing Romney would spark backlash among his supporters. Wrangling over the secretary of state post appears to have slowed announcements on other appointments in Trump's cabinet. Earlier reports suggested that retired General James Mattis was reportedly at the top of Trump's list for the defense secretary, while former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was tipped as the favored candidate to be homeland security secretary. Giuliani is also in the running for secretly of state role, although questions concerning his overseas business dealings appear to have given Trump pause. Trump also met on Monday with Frances Townsend, a national security aide during the George W. Bush administration. As he exited Trump Tower on Monday, Pence, who is spearheading the transition process, teased "a number of very important announcements tomorrow." Fresh investigation into Petraeus' affair Petraeus' appearance at Trump Tower coincided with news that the Defense Department was conducting a new leaks investigation into the extramarital affair that led to the former general's resignation as CIA Director. A US official said that the investigation concerned leaked information about Paula Broadwell, the woman with whom Patraeus had an affair and leaked information to, and the status of her security clearance at the time. Last year, Petraeus eventually pleaded guilty to felony charges of mishandling classified information he had provided to Broadwell. He was spared a prison sentence under a plea deal with the Justice Deaprtment. During the presidential campaign, Trump repeadetly lambasted Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over a federal investigation into her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state. He suggested that her actions her graver than Petraeus,' although prosecutors accuse the retired general of being fully aware the documents he shared Broadwell contained classified information. The FBI, meanwhile, has said it has found no evidence that Clinton or her aides intended to break the law.

The retired general is in contention for the secretary of state position after he and Donald Trump held lengthy talks on Monday. Petraeus will have to shrug off the 2012 scandal that forced him to resign as CIA director. Retired General David Petraeus entered the running to become secretary of state under President-elect Donald Trump, after the two held talks ... Read More »

Trump criticizes Clinton over recount effort

Donald Trump is assailing an effort to recount votes in up to three battleground states, calling it “sad.” The US president-elect has also alleged that “millions of people who voted illegally” cost him the popular vote. Taking to Twitter on Sunday, the US president-elect quoted his former rival Hillary Clinton, and called her decision to join a recount in Wisconsin ... Read More »

Merkel defends policies, stays silent on populists in Bundestag speech

In her first major speech since declaring her intention to seek a fourth term, German Chancellor Angela Merkel advocated for stability and gradual progress. Conspicuously, she didn't mention Donald Trump by name. Anyone who expected a fiery campaign speech from German Chancellor Angela Merkel was sorely disappointed by her speech on Wednesday. In a more than half-hour address to a full session of the German parliament, the chancellor sought to portray herself as the guarantor of slow but steady progress. What was noticeable in her remarks was the absence of any extended discussion of both Britain's decision to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election. The closest Merkel got to addressing the rise of right-wing populism was to talk in general terms about changes in the world's political culture and media landscape. "A lot of people are concerned about the stability of our social order," the chancellor said. "Suddenly it seems that what we considered self-evident isn't that self-evident after all." Merkel said democracy, the social market economy and the culture of civilized debate were under threat and explicitly criticized fake news and social bots. "People form their opinions differently than they did 25 years ago," Merkel said. "We have to learn to deal with this." Merkel said that Germany needed to prevent hate speech because "it's not compatible with our ideals." She added that debates should be carried out "in the spirit of respect for others." Mild criticism of the EU She then moved on foreign policy, specifically Turkey and Syria. She defended maintaining contact with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, despite his increasingly undemocratic policies, and criticized Russia for supporting the Assad regime in Damascus. She defended NATO and the European Union as international partnerships that were good for Germany, although she did acknowledge that the EU was often too cumbersome and was not always able to live up to promises concerning prosperity. "Europe often fails to keep pace sometimes with developments," Merkel said. "Decisions need to be made more quickly. Otherwise Europe loses credibility with ordinary citizens." She added that she was "not happy" about the likely demise of Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact with the United States, which US President-elect Donald Trump said he would pull the United States out of. But she pointedly eschewed mentioning Trump by name. Nor did she say any direct words about the rise of the anti-immigration populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is currently attracted up to 15 percent support in public opinion polls. "Better than ever before" She claimed the grand coalition between her conservative CDU-CSU and the Social Democrats had economically benefited most Germans. "Real wages and pensions are rising," Merkel said. "Despite the suffering of some, for instance those on social benefits, which we cannot ignore, people in Germany are doing better than ever before." She also portrayed her open stance toward waves of political refugees, especially from Syria, in the past two years as a point of pride for Germany. "Despite all the critical discussions, last year there was a fantastic level of cooperation and solidarity," Merkel said. "Our country can truly be proud. I think one of the most urgent political tasks is the fight against illegal immigration and human trafficking." She promised that refugees would be given instruction in German language and Western values and said that the majority of refugees wanted to integrate into German society. But she also said those who refused to integrate would not be permitted to remain in the country. She concluded with an appeal for stability. "We have a chance to shape global change, step by step in a humane way," Merkel said. "Let's continue working on this. Peace and security are the central needs of people in Germany." Recriminations on the left The session got off to a far more feisty start with a speech by Sahra Wagenknecht, the parliamentary chairwoman of the Left Party, the main opposition party in the Bundestag. Wagenknecht repeatedly mentioned Trump, the Brexit, the AfD and the leader of the far-right Front National in France, Marine Le Pen, while excoriating the chancellor. Wagenknecht particularly took Merkel to task for the "arrogance of your policies" and for increasing the gap between rich and poor in Germany. "You shouldn't be surprised that voters are deserting you in droves," the Left Party spokeswoman said. "You lack the courage to confront the economically powerful….You should start taking this seriously if you don't want to responsible for paving the way for a German Donald Trump in the chancellor's office." Green parliamentary leader Anton Hofreiter also invoked the AfD and said that Merkel had no new ideas for the future. "It's unclear what you want to do," Hofreit said in Merkel's direction. "Last time you said: You all know me. This time around, it's not enough to say: we'll continue with what we've been doing." Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary leader of the Merkel's coalition partners the Social Democrats (SPD), declined to criticize Merkel and instead attacked Wagenknecht. "Your answer to more populism from the right is more populism from the right," Oppermann said. "Speeches like yours help strengthen the AfD." There has been a lot of speculation that the SPD will try to regain the chancellorship in next years national election by putting together a parliamentary majority with the Greens and the Left. But there was little evidence of that on Wednesday. Mixed reviews Initial reaction to the debate ran in a number of directions. German public broadcaster ARD found Merkel's performance "erratic" and "distracted," while the chancellor struck Germany's other national public TV station ZDF as "relaxed" and "statesmanlike." The Berliner Morgenpost newspaper saw the verbal arrows hurled at the Merkel by Hofreiter as a potential sign that the Greens are not thinking of a potential coalition with the conservatives in 2017 and predicted that the tone of the campaign would be significantly nastier than the previous two. By contrast the lack of attacks by the SPD on the chancellor was interpreted as an acknowledgement that the coming election could well lead to a continuation of the current grand coalition. The Tagesspiegel newspaper pointed out that Merkel has no choice but to run as the candidate of continuity, even if the political winds are blowing in the direction of change, and that the SPD and the Greens, which also support the chancellor's refugee policies, have little chance to completely distance themselves from her. In the hot-house world of social media, Wagenknecht's drew a lot of positive responses while a number of users took exception to Merkel's assertion that the German people were doing better than ever before.

In her first major speech since declaring her intention to seek a fourth term, German Chancellor Angela Merkel advocated for stability and gradual progress. Conspicuously, she didn’t mention Donald Trump by name. Anyone who expected a fiery campaign speech from German Chancellor Angela Merkel was sorely disappointed by her speech on Wednesday. In a more than half-hour address to a ... Read More »

Trump says he will withdraw US from TPP trade deal ‘on day one’

US President-elect Donald Trump has announced plans to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal the day he takes office. This was a central campaign pledge in the run-up to his election. President-elect Trump released a video laying out actions he would take on his first day in office on January 20, including his announcement of a full withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership by presidential executive order. Trump had campaigned for the US presidency on a pledge to pull out of the 12-nation trade deal, repeatedly referring to it as a job-killing "disaster." "I've asked my transition team to develop a list of executive actions we can take on day one to restore our laws and bring back our jobs," the US president-elect said in a video message outlining priorities for his first 100 days. "On trade, I am going to issue our notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potential disaster for our country," he said. "Instead, we will negotiate fair, bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back onto American shores." TPP was a major focus during Barack Obama's presidency. Obama's signature trade initiative was designed to strengthen economic ties between the US and Asian countries and was seen as a blueprint for other trade deals to follow, such as TTIP. However, many voters believed that such international trade deals are largely responsible for jobs in the US being outsourced abroad. Japan reacts Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reacted to Trump's comments, saying that the TPP would be meaningless without US participation. Abe, who attended a gathering of TPP leaders in Lima on the weekend, said there was no discussion at the meeting that other members should try to put the TPP into effect without the United States. He also said the pact could not be renegotiated. "This would disturb the fundamental balance of benefits." Japan is also worried that Trump might follow up his campaign rhetoric and demand that Tokyo pay more for the 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan under a security treaty. At the present moment, Japan pays only about half of the non-personnel costs of stationing the US troops. Japan's pacifist constitution, drafted after World War II, forbids the use of force in settling international disputes. Though this directive has been interpreted loosely, with increasingly Japan training its own military for peacekeeping missions, the country relies on the US for protection against aggression. The beginnings of the 'Trump Doctrine' Trump's message addressed other areas of policy as well, including another key campaign platform issue, immigration. "On immigration, I will direct the Department of Labor to investigate all abuses of visa programs that undercut the American worker," he said. Trump also outlined that his initial focus on national security would be to "develop a comprehensive plan to protect America's vital infrastructure from cyber-attacks, and all other form of attacks" with the help of the Department of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He also spoke of the introduction of a lifetime ban on executive government officials "lobbying on behalf of a foreign government" as part of his planned ethics reform. Trump also rejected environmental concerns for the energy sector, saying he would cancel "job-killing restrictions," including regulations on shale energy, to create jobs. He also state that as a general rule, he would eliminate two old pieces of government regulation for every new one introduced.

US President-elect Donald Trump has announced plans to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal the day he takes office. This was a central campaign pledge in the run-up to his election. President-elect Trump released a video laying out actions he would take on his first day in office on January 20, including his announcement of a full ... Read More »

Trump meets with rival Romney, fueling secretary of state speculation

The president-elect has met with his fierce critic Mitt Romney as he assembles his Cabinet. Despite the former GOP candidate's stance on Trump, the meeting has fed rumors that Romney could be the next secretary of state. The 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney met with President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday, trading smiles and tight handshakes as the two set aside a fierce rivalry. During the hour-and-20 minute meeting at Trump's golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, Romney told reporters the two had a "far-reaching conversation with regards to the various theaters in the world." "We discussed those areas, and exchanged our views on those topics - a very thorough and in-depth discussion in the time we had." Romney said. Analysts have speculated that the more mainstream Republican is being considered for the position of Secretary of State. Romney declined on Saturday to say whether or not he had been offered the position. The 'phony' and the 'choke artist' Throughout Trump's 18-month presidential campaign, Romney was part of the Republican establishment "Never Trump" movement to block Trump's nomination. He previously said Trump would be dangerous as a president and that "when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart." In a tweet as recent as October 7, in the aftermath of a leaked video wherein Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women, Romney condemned his comments. "Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America's face to the world," he wrote. In another tweet from March, he called Trump a "phony," adding that "his promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University." Yesterday, Trump agreed to a $25 million out of court settlement in three cases related to his unaccredited real estate lecture series. Trump has also denounced Romney, calling him a "choke artist" for losing to President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. In a February 25 tweet, Trump called Romney a "dope" and "one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics." If Romney were to be offered the job of secretary of state, it is still not clear whether or not he would accept the position. A person close to Romney told Reuters news agency that it was unlikely that Romney would be offered the position. The source described Saturday's meeting as more of a symbol of unity within the Republican party who were split by Trump's campaign, giving the "seal of approval to Republicans who don't know if they should help Trump or not." Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is also favored for the diplomatic post. Filling out the cabinet With some 15 senior positions in his Cabinet still to fill, the president-elect met with several other administration contenders at his sprawling golf club in New Jersey - an hour and a half away from the protesters camped outside his Trump Tower headquarters in Manhattan. He also met with retired General James Mattis on Saturday, who is possibly being considered for the defense secretary position. He also met with two candidates for education secretary: Michelle Rhee and Betsy DeVos. Rhee is a former chancellor of Washington DC schools and polarizing figure who fought teachers' unions in her advocacy of charter schools. Devos is the former head of the Michigan Republican Party and an advocate of school vouchers. On Friday, Trump announced that Senator Jeff Sessions would be the Attorney General. Sessions is an immigration hardliner who came under fire in the 1980s for using racially charged language against civil rights groups that cost him a job as a federal judge. The President-elect also tapped Iran-deal opponent Mike Pompeo to lead the CIA. Trump also named Stephen Bannon, former head of the ultra-conservative website Breitbart News, as his chief strategist. The picks so far suggest that Trump plans on taking ultra-hardline approaches to immigration and Islamic extremism. Democrats and members of minority groups have voiced significant concern over Trump's administration picks so far, saying his choices threaten unity and could undo progress for racial, religious and sexual minorities in the US.

The president-elect has met with his fierce critic Mitt Romney as he assembles his Cabinet. Despite the former GOP candidate’s stance on Trump, the meeting has fed rumors that Romney could be the next secretary of state. The 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney met with President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday, trading smiles and tight handshakes as the two set ... Read More »

China’s relationship with US ‘at hinge moment,’ says Xi

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he hopes for a "smooth transition" in ties with the US after a final meeting with Obama. Xi pledged further economic opening in his country as APEC leaders sought new trade options. US President Barack Obama has met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for the final time on Saturday at the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima, Peru. He called the period following Donald Trump's election a "hinge moment" in relations between Beijing and Washington. Xi also spoke of his hope for a "smooth transition" in those ties without directly naming Trump. The President-elect's campaign often criticized China, blaming the country for "inventing" climate change and said he would either scrap or renegotiate international trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). "I hope the two sides will work together to focus on cooperation, manage our differences, and make sure there is a smooth transition in the relationship and that it will continue to grow going forward," Xi said. Obama, who has met with his Chinese counterpart nine times since he took office in 2009, has worked to slowly improve cooperation with China while managing fallout from disputes in the South China Sea. "I continue to believe that a constructive US-China relationship benefits our two peoples and benefits the entire globe," Obama said. "We've demonstrated what's possible when our two countries work together." The two sides also restated their commitment to "denuclearizing the Korean peninsula" following their meeting China ready to fill the trade void Xi also emphasized his country's commitment to economic opening, painting his country as a leader on free trade during the summit. "China will not shut its door to the outside world but open more," Xi said in a keynote address at APEC. "We're going to...make sure the fruits of development are shared." The Chinese leader has been promoting an alternate vision for regional trade the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which currently excludes the Americas. The Obama administration has cautioned that RCEP would not include as many protections for the environment, workers or intellectual property. Chinese attendance at the APEC meeting in Lima was the largest it has ever been, with regional delegates saying China is ready to fill the void and take the lead on trade should the US turn towards protectionism under Trump. Despite China's efforts, some APEC members said they intend to press forward with TPP, hoping the US will still show leadership on trade. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said TPP members might be able to incorporate "cosmetic changes" to make the trade pact more attractive for the former reality TV star President-elect. "The Trump Pacific Partnership for instance, that'd be fine," Key said, laughing. The White House has urged world leaders to give Trump time to get accustomed to the office.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he hopes for a “smooth transition” in ties with the US after a final meeting with Obama. Xi pledged further economic opening in his country as APEC leaders sought new trade options. US President Barack Obama has met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for the final time on Saturday at the margins of ... Read More »

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