Trump offers to mediate in South China Sea dispute

Manila

US President Donald Trump offered Sunday to mediate in a territorial dispute over the resource-rich South China Sea, after years of Chinese island-building in the contested waters.
Trump´s surprise proposal to insert himself into the decades-long row
risked a backlash from China, which has repeatedly said the United States has no role to play in what it insists is a series of bilateral issues.
“If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know… I am a very good mediator,” Trump told Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi during an official state visit.
Trump´s comments came shortly before Chinese President Xi Jinping began his own state visit to Vietnam, in the capital Hanoi.
Donald Trump also attempted to clear up confusion over whether he accepts Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials of meddling in the US election last year.
At a news conference in Vietnam, Trump distanced himself from remarks he made on Saturday in which he suggested he believed Putin when he said there had been no Russian meddling in the election that took him to the White House.
The comments had drawn criticism at home because US intelligence agencies have long since concluded there was Russian meddling.
“As to whether I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted,” Trump said at a news conference with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang.
“As currently led, by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.”
He was careful to make clear he sided with the intelligence agencies under his own leadership.
Former US intelligence director James Clapper had told Reuters: “The fact the president of the United States would take Putin at his word over that of the intelligence community is quite simply unconscionable.”
Further US President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had insulted him by calling him “old” and said he would never call Kim “short and fat.”
Trump made the comment after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam.
In a series of tweets, he also said Chinese President Xi Jinping was “upping sanctions” on North Korea in response to its nuclear and missile programs and that Xi wants Pyongyang to “denuclearize.”
In Manila, riot police used water canon to prevent hundreds of protesters reaching the US embassy in Manila on Sunday, just a few hours before President Donald Trump arrived in the Philippines for a regional summit and the last leg of his Asia tour.
Carrying placards declaring “Dump Trump” and “Down with US Imperialism”, the left-wing protesters were blocked by police in riot gear with shields and batons, and then showered with jets of water from a fire engine.
”Trump is the CEO of the imperialist government of the US, said 18-year-old student Alexis Danday after the protesters were scattered. “We know he is here to push for unfair treaties between the Philippines and the US”.—Agencies

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