Obama re­as­sures world lead­ers Xi says US-China ties at ‘hinge mo­ment’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

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

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