28 Jan 2017

Trump and May 'committed' to Nato

10:23 am on 28 January 2017

US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May have reaffirmed their commitment to the Nato alliance after White House talks.

Britain's Prime Minister Teresa May at a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump.

Britain's Prime Minister Teresa May at a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP

Mrs May confirmed Mr Trump was "100 percent in favour of Nato" despite the president's recent comments calling the trans-Atlantic alliance obsolete.

Both leaders said they would work to strengthen commercial ties.

Mrs May also said Mr Trump had accepted an invitation from the Queen for a state visit later this year.

The prime minister added that a trade agreement between the UK and US was "in the national interest in both our countries".

Although the UK cannot begin to negotiate trade deals until it leaves the EU, Mr Trump has said he wants a "quick" deal after that.

When asked about Mr Trump's scheduled phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, the president played down any suggestion that he would lift US sanctions against the Kremlin.

"It's very early to be talking about that," he told reporters during a news conference.

He also said having a "great relationship" with countries like Russia and China "would be a positive, not a negative".

Meanwhile, Mrs May stood firm with the European Union's stance on sanctions against Russia.

"We have been very clear that we want to see the Minsk agreement fully implemented", she said, adding that the sanctions would continue until that is achieved.

Mr Trump said he would also defer to retired general and Defence Secretary James Mattis on whether he would reinstate the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique.

The president said Mr Mattis does not "necessarily believe" in waterboarding and other interrogation techniques, which critics view as torture.

"I don't necessarily agree, but I would tell you that he will override because I'm giving him that power," Mr Trump said of General Mattis.

"I happen to feel that it does work. I've been open about that for a long period of time. But I am going with our leaders."

Trump has 'friendly' call with Mexican leader

During a joint news conference at the White House with Mrs May, Mr Trump described his call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto as "very, very friendly."

But Mr Trump showed no signs of backing off his threats to tear up deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Mr Trump said he had a friendly phone call with Mr Pena Nieto on Friday but asserted he would renegotiate trade deals and other aspects of the countries' ties because Mexico had "beat us to a pulp" in the past.

Financial markets took news of the call as a sign that a crisis in US-Mexican relations had eased, a day after Mr Pena Nieto scrapped a meeting set for Washington next week over Mr Trump's insistence that Mexico pay for his planned border wall. Mexico's peso rose on the news.

Mexico's government said in a statement that Mr Pena Nieto and Mr Trump agreed not to talk publicly for now about payment for the multibillion-dollar wall and described the call as "constructive and productive."

The White House said that during the call Mr Trump and Mr Pena Nieto recognized their differences on the wall but agreed to work them out.

- BBC / Reuters

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