13 May 2016

Trump and Ryan break the ice

8:47 am on 13 May 2016

Donald Trump and a senior Republican figure have agreed to work together to unite the party after a heated and divisive campaign for the party's presidential nominee.

Republican US Presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives for a meeting with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) at the National Republican Congressional Committee May 12, 2016 in Washington, DC.

Donald Trump arrives for the meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan. Photo: AFP

It was the first time Mr Trump and House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan had held talks since Mr Ryan expressed concern about the presumptive nominee's volatile style and some of his policy plans.

Mr Ryan stopped short of endorsing Mr Trump but emerged from the meeting declaring they had taken steps toward healing fractures in the party.

"It's no secret that Donald Trump and I have had our differences. We talked about those differences today.

"The question is what is it that we need to do to unify the Republican Party in all strains of conservative wings in the party.

"We had a very good, encouraging and productive conversation on just how to do that."

In a statement, the pair cast a positive spin on the meeting saying they were "totally committed" to party unity.

They are trying to find common ground after Mr Ryan said he could not endorse the presumptive Republican nominee.

He has said the businessman lacked conservative principles.

"While we were honest about our few differences, we recognise that there are also many important areas of common ground,"the two wrote in a joint statement.

They said they would be having "additional discussions" but think they can unify the party and win the election.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan answers questions during his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol April 28, 2016 in Washington, DC.

Paul Ryan Photo: AFP

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who mediated the talks in his office, said the meeting was a success.

Mr Trump arrived for the meeting at the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters in Washington amid protesters brandishing placards.

In December 2015, Mr Ryan harshly criticised Mr Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US.

He said it was "not what this party stands for and more importantly it's not what this country stands for".

But on Wednesday, Mr Trump appeared to soften, saying it was "just a suggestion".

Mr Ryan, who ran as 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's vice president, clashes with Mr Trump on many issues, including religious freedom and trade.

A Ryan endorsement would help Mr Trump, 69, and the party move past a phase during which Republican officeholders and congressional candidates have publicly struggled with the decision of whether to get behind the New York real estate developer.

Mr Trump's campaign, however, has suggested Mr Ryan's support is not essential, pointing to the more than 10 million votes Mr Trump has received in party nominating contests.

- BBC / Reuters

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