Saturday, January 28, 2017

Trump orders ISIS plan, talks with Putin and gives Bannon national security role - washintonpost

President Trump on Saturday ordered the Pentagon to devise a strategy to defeat the Islamic State and restructured the National Security Council to include his controversial top political adviser as he forged a partnership with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin in their first official phone call.

Trump and Putin spoke for one hour and vowed to join forces to fight terrorism in Syria and elsewhere, according to the White House and the Kremlin, signaling a potential shift in U.S.-Russian relations that have been marked by high tension.

Meanwhile, Trump signed a presidential memo directing the Pentagon to submit a plan within 30 days to defeat the Islamic State, an effort to make good on his campaign promise to more aggressively confront Islamist terrorism than his predecessor did.

In their call, Putin and Trump discussed Ukraine and Syria, and they agreed to build stronger economic ties between the United States and Russia, according to a statement issued by the Kremlin. They said they would arrange an in-person meeting, but Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax news agency that the two presidents did not specifically talk about a lifting of the sanctions the Obama administration imposed against Russia over alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.

Eliminating the sanctions is a priority for Moscow, but Trump is under pressure in the United States to maintain them and said Friday that he thought it was premature to consider lifting them.

The White House described the conversation as “a congratulatory call” initiated by Putin.

“The positive call was a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair,” read a statement from the White House. “Both President Trump and President Putin are hopeful that after today’s call the two sides can move quickly to tackle terrorism and other important issues of mutual concern.”

This was one of five conversations Trump had Saturday with world leaders. Seeking to cultivate a personal rapport, Trump spoke with the leaders of Australia, France, Germany and Japan, but his administration’s suspension of the acceptance of all refu­gees and a suspension of entry by citizens from seven ­majority-Muslim nations injected some diplomatic tension into the conversations.

In their call, French President François Hollande told Trump that he believes defending their democracies would be effective only if their governments adhere to “the principles on which they are founded, in particular the reception of refugees,” according to the Elysee Palace, the French president’s office.

Trump then spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he had blasted repeatedly on the campaign trail over the German policy of admitting large numbers of Syrian refugees. Trump and Merkel covered a range of issues, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, according to the White House.

After Trump’s criticism of NATO during his campaign, the president and Merkel agreed on the alliance’s “fundamental importance to the broader transatlantic relationship and its role in ensuring the peace and stability of our North Atlantic community,” read a White House statement.

Trump accepted Merkel’s invitation to visit Hamburg, in July for the G-20 summit, and Trump invited the chancellor to visit Washington soon, the White House said. - Read More


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