With just days to go until the official inauguration ceremony, President-elect Donald Trump gave the European press a taste of things to come for the first time since his election.
Speaking to Kai Diekmann of the German tabloid newspaper and The Times of London’s Michael Gove – the sacked Justice Secretary of the UK who was a key figure in the Vote Leave campaign – Trump gave his vision for the immediate future.
First on the agenda: offering President Putin a “deal”.
Russia and the Obama administration have been at each others throats somewhat in recent weeks and Trump hopes to succeed where his predecessor did not, by brokering an amicable truce.
The President-elect seemed to suggest a cooling of the tension between the two nations.
His proposition? To potentially end US sanctions imposed on Russia in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal with Moscow.
“They have sanctions on Russia — let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia,” the Republican told the Times.
“For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. But Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit.”
The two countries are the world’s largest nuclear powers, having between them over 3,000 deployed warheads – he US has 1,367 and Russia has 1,796, according to the US State Department.
Pulling no punches
But Trump was not all praise. He was highly critical of Russia’s intervention in Syria, calling it a “very bad thing” that had led to a “terrible humanitarian situation”.
However, while he did not hold back when criticising Russia, his comments on other world leaders were a little more inflammatory.
Despite his the Obama administrations healthy relationship with Angela Merkel, Trump heavily criticised the German Chancellor for her open doors immigration property, saying she had made a “catastrophic mistake” by admitting more than a million migrants.
“I had great respect for her, I felt she was a great great leader. I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals,” he said.
He added that he would start off trusting Merkel and Putin, but reiterated that that may not last long.
A slither of hope for post-Brexit Britain
But it was his offer of a swift trade deal with Britain after his inauguration that will put Prime Minister Theresa May’s post-Brexit nerves at ease.
Although yet another British politician – and another prominent Brexiteer at that – meeting with Trump before her could be another thorn in Mrs May’s side, Trump’s apparent urgency to maintain the relationship between the US and Britain will offer some solace.
“We’re going to work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly,” he said.
He praised the UK for its vote to leave the EU – which he said had become a “vehicle for Germany” – and said he thinks that other countries are sure to follow in Britain’s footsteps.
Proof is in the presidency
It has been a long campaign filled with outlandish – and often contentious – statements from the President-elect.
Another interview in which Trump made inflammatory comments about another nation or leader will not come as a surprise to many.
However, with the campaign trail left behind him, the Republican will have to cut back on the bold promises.
After Friday’s inauguration, he will have to start turning those words into actions.
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