Wednesday 25 April 2018

Putin confident 'smart' Trump will realise his responsibilities

Kellyanne Conway said Donald Trump had widened his search
Kellyanne Conway said Donald Trump had widened his search

Terrence Dopp

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is confident US president-elect Donald Trump will soon realise the high level of responsibility his job entails.

Despite Mr Trump's pro-Russian statements during the campaign, Russian politicians were concerned about reports that Mr Trump was considering Mitt Romney, known for his harsh stance on Russia, to be his secretary of state.

Mr Putin said in an interview with the NTV channel he was confident Mr Trump would make responsible choices.

He said that Mr Trump's business accomplishments showed him to be a "smart man".

"If he is a smart man, that means that he will fairly soon become aware of a different level of responsibility. We expect that he act with these considerations in mind," Mr Putin said.

Trump has already widened his search for a secretary of state, suggesting Romney or the other front-runner Rudy Giuliani may not get the job.

Speaking to reporters yesterday at Trump Tower in New York, which the billionaire developer turned politician has used as the centre of his transition effort, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump planned to hold more meetings this week with candidates for the job. She declined to name any new hopefuls.

"It's true he's broadened the search," Conway said as guards and police screened those entering the building and tourists milled about.

"He's very fortunate to have interest among serious men and women, all of whom need to understand that their first and foremost responsibility as secretary of state would be to implement and adhere to the president-elect's America first foreign policy and be loyal to his view of the world."

Sources close to the transition said Trump had grown wary of former New York mayor Giuliani's international business ties and public campaigning for the job.

At the same time, it was understood Trump was wary of angering supporters by tapping Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who called him a "fraud" and a "conman" months ago.

Conway, who managed Trump's campaign, said in late November on NBC's 'Meet the Press' that she was "just astonished at the breathtaking volume and intensity of blowback that I see" against the possibility of Romney serving as the nation's top diplomat.

Others in Trump's inner circle, including incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, had been said to be pushing for consideration of Romney.

Vice-president-elect Mike Pence, on NBC's 'Meet the Press', said Trump had been winnowing the list of contenders to be the top US diplomat, but that the field could also "grow a little bit".

Mr Pence also tried to calm the storm that erupted over Trump's phone conversation with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday, which prompted a diplomatic protest from China.

"I don't think so," Pence said when asked whether any shift in policy should be read into the call - was the first by a US president-elect or president with a Taiwanese leader since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979.

"This was a courtesy call. The democratically elected president of Taiwan called to congratulate the president-elect," Pence said.

China's Foreign Ministry said it had lodged "stern representations" with what it called the "relevant US side", urging the careful handling of the Taiwan issue to avoid any unnecessary disturbances in ties.

Pence said he was not aware of any contact between the Trump transition team and the Chinese government since Friday, and did not expect Trump's team would reach out this week to ease tensions with China, which claims Taiwan as its own.

Trump lambasted China throughout the US election campaign, pledging to label the country a currency manipulator on his first day in office.

Irish Independent

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