Obama reassures world leaders Xi says US-China ties at ‘hinge moment’
LIMA — President Barack Obama is wrapping up a threecountry, post-US election tour the same way it began: by trying to reassure leaders from around the world that US democracy isn’t broken and everything will be fine when Republican Donald Trump succeeds him next year.
Obama is in Lima for a final appearance at an annual Asia-Pacific summit.
But global concerns about Trump’s pending ascension to the world’s most powerful office after a surprise win in the recent presidential election were expected to be a key topic during Obama’s meetings
The Trump issue overshadowed the president’s interactions with world leaders during his earlier stops in Greece and Germany.
Trump opened what was an unlikely presidential bid by blasting Mexicans as criminals and rapists and vowing to build a wall along the Mexico border to keep them and other Latinos from entering the US illegally. During the campaign, he rattled US allies by questioning the value of multinational organisations like Nato and and he opposed international trade deals, including a pending Pacific trade pact that Obama negotiated with 11 other countries.
Since Obama opened the final foreign trip of his presidency with a stop in Greece on Tuesday, he has tried to reassure his counterparts that the US will uphold its partnerships and obligations despite the divisive rhetoric of a campaign that ended with the election of a real estate mogul and reality TV star with no political or government experience.
Obama probably offered additional reassurance on Saturday during his meeting with Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who took office as Peru’s president earlier this year. The leaders made no public comments as they appeared before a contingent of US and Peruvian news media.
On Friday, before Obama’s late-night arrival in Peru’s capital, Kuczynski warned that the US presidential election is a sign of intensifying hostility toward free trade that threatens the global economy. He told delegates gathering for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Forum that global trade had stopped growing in the past two years and would only worsen if nations wall off their economies. “It is fundamental that world trade grow again and that protectionism be defeated,” said Kuczynski, who did not mention Trump by name.
Obama has argued for some time that globalisation is here to stay and governments must address fears about LIMA — Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping met for the final time on Saturday, with the Chinese leader warning the period after Donald Trump’s election is a “hinge moment” in relations between the two powers.
Without referring to Trump directly, Xi spoke of his hope for a “smooth transition” in a relationship that Obama described as “the most consequential in the world”.
During a vitriol-filled election campaign Trump frequently took a combative stance against China, blaming Beijing for “inventing” climate change and rigging the rules of trade.
The White House, surprised by Trump’s lack of details on the issues, has urged world leaders to give Trump time to get his feet under the desk.
For much of Obama’s presidency, China and the United States have slowly improved co-operation and tried to limit the fallout from disputes, all while vying for influence in the Asia-Pacific.
China has been quick to seize on the failure of a US-backed Pacific trade deal to push its own version of
what the changing economics mean for them.
Meanwhile, Trump and the 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have set aside a bitter rivalry and held talks likely to feed speculation that Romney could be in line to be the next US secretary of state.
Trump and Romney emerged from their meeting after an hour and 20 minutes, and Trump told reporters the talks “went great”.
Romney said the pair “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.
“And I appreciate the chance to speak with the presidentelect and I look forward to the coming administration and the things that it’s going to be doing.”
Romney, who was a leader of the establishment Republican “Never Trump” movement that tried to block the pact — excluding Washington at the APEC meeting.
Xi — who the White House sees as perhaps the most powerful Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping or even Mao Zedong — said he wanted to see co-operation continue.
“I hope the two sides will work together to focus on co-operation, manage our differences, and make sure there is a smooth transition in the relationship and that it will continue to grow going forward.”
The two men have met nine times since Obama took office in early 2009.
Obama said he wanted to “take this opportunity to note our work together to build a more durable and productive set of bilateral ties”.
“I continue to believe that a constructive US-China relationship benefits our two peoples and benefits the entire globe,” he said at the start of the meeting.
“We’ve demonstrated what’s possible when our two countries work together,” he said, citing an agreement to tackle climate change.
Obama also acknowledged that his eight years guiding
the tycoon from becoming the nominee, was first in a long list of people Trump was meeting with on Saturday and Sunday as he sought to fill out his cabinet and gather advice ahead of his January 20 move to the White House.
In March, Romney said Trump would be dangerous as president, with policies that could touch off a recession.
Romney also said: “I’m afraid that when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart.”
Trump had denounced Romney as a “choke artist” for losing the 2012 election to President Barack Obama.
However, some analysts believe Trump’s meeting with Romney represents an olive branch to establishment Republicans.
“Trump is having some difficulty in getting some really experienced republicans and civil servants and republican intellectuals to engage with his administration and Mitt Romney would be a sign to them that they are going to have some clout, some buy-in, here and it might actually be worth cooperating with the transition,” New York US-China relations have seen difficulties.
That period has seen tensions in particular over China’s seizure of territory it claims in the South China Sea, as well as over the treatment of US firms in China.
Obama said he expected a “candid conversation on areas where we continue to differ, including the creation of a more level playing field for our businesses to compete, innovation policies, excess capacity and human rights”.
One area of continued tension concerns how hard to push sanctions against North Korea over its ballistic and nuclear weapons programmes.
Obama said he and Xi “are united on our strong opposition to North Korea’s provocations, and we will intensify our efforts to denuclearise the Korean peninsula”.
The US is pushing for further sanctions to choke off funding to North Korean weapons programmes.
Pyongyang has launched multiple tests to develop a miniaturised nuclear warhead and a missile capable of delivering that deadly payload to the United States, alarming the White House. — AFP
Magazine’s Eric Levitz said.
“I think what is interesting right now is Romney’s motivation. Whether he genuinely wants a position within Trump’s administration — the administration of a man he has called a phoney, fraud — or whether he wants to take this opportunity similar to how Obama has used his access to Trump to try to influence the president-elect’s position.”
If given a job, Romney, a more mainstream Republican, would serve alongside more hawkish Trump appointees named on Friday: Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama as attorney general, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as national security advisor and Representative Mike Pompeo as CIA director.
Analysts say that Trump has been considering former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a close adviser, for secretary of state, as well as former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. — Al Jazeera
The NUS says government reforms are an attempt at privatising university education —Al Jazeera