Obama, Trump hold 'excellent' White House talks

PHOTO: AFP

Barack Obama and Donald Trump on Thursday put past animosity aside during a 90-minute White House meeting designed to quell fears about the health of the world's pre-eminent democracy.

As protests against the Republican property mogul's shock election rumbled across US cities and world capitals contended with a suddenly uncertain world order, Obama and Trump vowed to carry out a smooth transition of power.

After a nasty campaign that culminated in the election of a 70-year-old billionaire who has never held public office and who gained power on a far-right platform, the message was: this is business as usual in a democracy.

The outgoing Democratic president and his successor huddled one-on-one in the Oval Office, for what Obama characterized as an "excellent conversation" and then put on a remarkably civil joint public appearance.

"It is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together, to deal with the many challenges that we face," Obama said.

Trump appeared more subdued than usual, and was unusually cautious and deferential in his remarks.

"Mr President, it was a great honour being with you," Trump said, calling Obama a "very good man" .

The meeting, which came less than 36 hours after Trump's shock election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, had the potential to be awkward.

After all, Trump championed the so-called "birther movement" challenging that Obama was actually born in the United States - a suggestion laden with deep racial overtones - only dropping the position recently.

And if the president-elect fulfils his campaign promises, he will unravel almost all of Obama's signature achievements.

Obama and Trump meet in the White House

  • Barack Obama and Donald Trump on Thursday put past animosity aside during a 90-minute White House meeting designed to quell fears about the health of the world's pre-eminent democracy.
  • White House staffers stand on the steps of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building as they await the arrival of US President-elect Donald Trump for a meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, DC, November 10, 2016.
  • "Mr President, it was a great honour being with you," Trump said, calling Obama a "very good man." .
  • As protests against the Republican property mogul's shock election rumbled across US cities and world capitals contended with a suddenly uncertain world order, Obama and Trump vowed to carry out a smooth transition of power.
  • After a nasty campaign that culminated in the election of a 70-year-old billionaire who has never held public office and who gained power on a far-right platform, the message was: this is business as usual in a democracy.
  • "It is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together, to deal with the many challenges that we face," Obama said.
  • Trump appeared more subdued than usual, and was unusually cautious and deferential in his remarks.
  • The outgoing Democratic president and his successor huddled one-on-one in the Oval Office, for what Obama characterized as an "excellent conversation" and then put on a remarkably civil joint public appearance.
  • After all, Trump championed the so-called "birther movement" challenging that Obama was actually born in the United States - a suggestion laden with deep racial overtones - only dropping the position recently.
  • "Here's a good rule. Don't answer questions when they just start yelling," Obama told Trump.
  • Trump - who previously called Obama the "most ignorant president in our history" - said he looked forward to receiving the president's counsel. Obama - who previously said Trump was a whiner and "uniquely unqualified" to be commander-in-chief - vowed his support.
  • The two men ended the improbable and historic White House encounter with a handshake and refused to take questions, appearing to find common cause in their opinion of the press.
  • He (Obama) told Trump that his administration would "do everything we can to help you succeed, because if you succeed, then the country succeeds."

Trump - who previously called Obama the "most ignorant president in our history" - said he looked forward to receiving the president's counsel.

Obama - who previously said Trump was a whiner and "uniquely unqualified" to be commander-in-chief - vowed his support.

He told Trump that his administration would "do everything we can to help you succeed, because if you succeed, then the country succeeds." The two men ended the improbable and historic White House encounter with a handshake and refused to take questions, appearing to find common cause in their opinion of the press.

"Here's a good rule. Don't answer questions when they just start yelling," Obama told Trump.

White House officials said that the two men had discussed a range of issues including global hotspots and Obama's meetings next week abroad with leaders from Germany, Greece and across the Asia-Pacific.

On that trip, Obama is likely to be inundated with panicked questions about America's role in world affairs.

The White House hopes that by rolling out the red carpet for Trump, they can bind him to some of the conventions of the office.

Trump then travelled to Capitol Hill to meet Republican leaders who had been at best cool to him winning their party's nomination.

The president-elect proclaimed that health care, border security and jobs will be his top three priorities when he moves to the White House next January.

He held talks with House Speaker Paul Ryan and then with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"We had a very detailed meeting," Trump told reporters. "As you know, health care - we're going to make it affordable. We are going to do a real job on health care," he said.

Trump made repealing Obamacare, and building a border wall between the United States and Mexico, pillars of his presidential campaign.

Trump said he and the Republican majority in Congress were going to accomplish "absolutely spectacular things for the American people," adding he was eager to get started.

Afterwards, following an hour-long meeting with McConnell on the other side of the Capitol, Trump stood at the Senate majority leader's side and stressed that "we have a lot to do." "We're going to look very strongly at immigration," he said.

"We're going to look very strongly at health care, and we're looking at jobs - big league jobs." Trump did not elaborate.

Team Trump unveiled a transition website - www.greatagain.gov - that highlights the colossal human resources challenge facing the incoming administration under the headline "Help wanted: 4,000 presidential appointees." During a bitter campaign that tugged at America's democratic fabric, the tycoon pledged to deport illegal immigrants, ban Muslims from the country and tear up free-trade deals.

Thousands of anti-Trump protests take to streets in US

  • Demonstrators marched in cities across the United States on Wednesday to protest against Republican Donald Trump's surprise presidential election win, blasting his controversial campaign rhetoric about immigrants, Muslims and other groups.
  • In New York, thousands of protesters filled streets in midtown Manhattan as they made their way to Trump Tower, Trump's gilded home on Fifth Avenue.
  • Hundreds of others gathered at a Manhattan park and shouted "Not my president".
  • A demonstration of about 6,000 people blocked traffic in Oakland, California, police said.
  • Protesters threw objects at police in riot gear, burned trash in the middle of an intersection, set off fireworks and smashed store front windows.
  • Police responded by throwing chemical irritants at the protesters, according to a Reuters witness.
  • In downtown Chicago, an estimated 1,800 people gathered outside the Trump International Hotel and Tower, chanting phrases like "No Trump! No KKK! No racist USA."
  • Chicago police closed roads in the area, impeding the demonstrators' path.
  • There were no immediate reports of arrests or violence there.
  • "I'm just really terrified about what is happening in this country," said 22-year-old Adriana Rizzo in Chicago, who was holding a sign that read: "Enjoy your rights while you can."
  • In Seattle, police responded to a shooting with multiple victims near the scene of anti-Trump protests. Police said it was unrelated to the demonstrations.
  • Protesters railed against Trump's campaign pledge to build a wall along the border with Mexico to keep immigrants from entering the United States illegally.
  • Hundreds also gathered in Philadelphia, Boston and Portland, Oregon, on Wednesday evening, and organisers planned rallies in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland, California.
  • A representative of the Trump campaign did not respond immediately to requests for comment on the protests.
  • Demonstrators face off with police as they take over the Hollywood 101 Freeway in in Los Angeles.
  • Antoinette Gaggero holds a Trump figurine making a Hitler salute that she found during an anti-Trump protest in Oakland, California.
  • Demonstrators riot in Oakland.
  • Police arrest a demonstrator in Oakland.
  • An officer examines a vandalized police vehicle as demonstrators riot in Oakland.
  • A man tries to remove graffiti as demonstrators riot in Oakland.
  • Patrons hold a sign as people march by in downtown Los Angeles.
  • A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest in San Francisco.
  • Patrons cheer as people march by in downtown Los Angeles.
  • A Donald Trump pinata is burned by people protesting the election of Republican Donald Trump as the president of the United States in downtown Los Angeles.
  • People march in downtown Los Angeles.
  • People protest outside Trump Tower in Manhattan.
  • Demonstrators protest outside the Chicago Theatre.
  • Demonstrators walk through Downtown San Diego.
  • A man gestures as he rides a hoverboard near a group of police officers on motorcycles during a demonstration in San Francisco.
  • People climb a pole outside Trump Tower during protests in Manhattan.

Those campaign messages were embraced by a large section of America, grown increasingly disgruntled by the scope of social and economic change under Obama.

But they were passionately rejected by Clinton supporters.

Protesters turned out for a second day in cities across America from New York to Los Angeles to express continued opposition to the incoming leader they accuse of racism, sexism and xenophobia. Thousands had rallied on Wednesday.

 
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