Obama to meet Aus­tralia, Canada lead­ers be­fore re­turn to US Multi­na­tional trade agree­ment at risk

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

LIMA: Pres­i­dent Barack Obama planned sep­a­rate talks with the lead­ers of Aus­tralia and Canada be­fore wrap­ping up the final for­eign trip of his pres­i­dency. Both coun­tries helped ne­go­ti­ate a multi­na­tional trade agree­ment with the US and nine other Pa­cific Rim coun­tries. But Congress is un­likely to rat­ify the deal, deal­ing a blow to Obama’s once high hopes of hav­ing the agree­ment be­come part of his pres­i­den­tial legacy. Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump says trade deals can hurt US work­ers, and he op­poses the sweep­ing Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship agree­ment. Be­sides par­tic­i­pat­ing in meet­ings yes­ter­day with other world lead­ers at­tend­ing the an­nual Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Fo­rum tak­ing place in Peru’s cap­i­tal, Obama was sit­ting down first with Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull of Aus­tralia, a US ally and part­ner in the trans-Pa­cific trade deal.

The pres­i­dent also planned to speak with Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, whose na­tion is an­other TPP part­ner. Be­fore board­ing Air Force One for the flight to Wash­ing­ton, Obama was to answer ques­tions from the jour­nal­ists who ac­com­pa­nied him to Greece, Ger­many and Peru. Trump’s elec­tion over­shad­owed ev­ery stop on Obama’s trip. The pres­i­dent went to once unimag­in­able lengths to de­fend the real-es­tate mogul and re­al­ity TV star who he had re­peat­edly de­nounced dur­ing the cam­paign as “tem­per­a­men­tally un­fit” and “uniquely un­qual­i­fied” to be pres­i­dent. “I think it will be im­por­tant for every­body around the world to not make im­me­di­ate judg­ments, but give this new pres­i­dent-elect a chance to put their team to­gether, to ex­am­ine the is­sues, to de­ter­mine what their poli­cies will be,” Obama said in re­sponse to a ques­tion about Trump dur­ing a fo­rum here Satur­day with some of Latin Amer­ica’s fu­ture lead­ers. “As I’ve al­ways said, how you cam­paign isn’t al­ways the same as how you gov­ern,” he added.

Soft­en­ing hard line po­si­tions

Obama’s sug­ges­tion is that Trump could soften some of his more hard line po­si­tions on im­mi­gra­tion, ter­ror­ism and other is­sues once he con­fronts the re­al­ity of hav­ing to run the coun­try.

But the can­di­dates Trump an­nounced this past week for key na­tional se­cu­rity posts Alabama Sen. Jeff Ses­sions for at­tor­ney gen­eral, re­tired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser and Kansas Rep. Mike Pom­peo to lead the CIA - sent a sig­nal that Trump in­tends to lead ex­actly as he said he would dur­ing the cam­paign. Lead­ers in ev­ery re­gion of the world have ex­pressed con­cern about Trump’s stances on im­mi­gra­tion, trade, NATO and other mat­ters. Obama’s first stop was Greece, where he lent sup­port to the prime min­is­ter’s ef­fort to turn around the coun­try’s econ­omy. He gave a speech about the value of democ­racy, de­spite its some­times “messy” na­ture, as he says the US elec­tion showed.

Obama cam­paigned hard for the los­ing Demo­cratic can­di­date, Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Dur­ing his stop in Greece, he also carved out time to tour the Acrop­o­lis and Parthenon. From there, it was on to Ger­many to visit one final time with Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, with whom he has col­lab­o­rated closely dur­ing the past eight years. Obama also met as a group in Berlin with the lead­ers of Ger­many, Bri­tain, Spain, France and Italy be­fore he headed for Peru.

—AP

LIMA: US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama speaks at a town hall with Young Lead­ers of the Amer­i­cas Ini­tia­tive (YLAI) on Satur­day.

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