1 Jan 2017

'We'll see': Trump pressed on Taiwan intentions

5:18 pm on 1 January 2017

US President-elect Donald Trump has left open the possibility of meeting with Taiwan's president if she visits the United States after he is sworn in on 20 January.

US President-elect Donald Trump answers questions from reporters on 31 December at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.

US President-elect Donald Trump answers questions from reporters on 31 December at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. Photo: AFP

He also expressed continued doubts over whether Russia was responsible for computer hacks of Democratic Party officials in the lead-up to last year's election.

He spoke briefly to reporters upon entering a New Year's Eve celebration at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where hundreds of guests, including Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone, were expected to gather.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will be in transit in Houston on 7 January and San Francisco on 13 January.

Asked by reporters if he would meet with her, if she were to be in the country at any point after he became president, Mr Trump said "we'll see".

He would not meet with any foreign leaders while Barack Obama was still in office, for protocol reasons, he said.

Mr Trump accepted a congratulatory telephone call from Ms Tsai shortly after his 8 November victory, which prompted Beijing to protest what it saw as a step to upset the "One China" policy that has been maintained by China and the US for decades.

On another foreign policy matter, Mr Trump warned against being quick to pin the blame on Russia for the hacking of the US emails, saying it could be unfair.

He said he knew things that other people did not know and he would say more later this week.

Mr Obama has expelled 35 Russian diplomats and imposed sanctions against a number of entities and individuals over the alleged cyber attacks.

Russia has denied being involved in hacking related to the election, calling the sanctions "ungrounded".

Local media, meanwhile, recently reported Sylvester Stallone was under consideration to head the National Endowment of the Arts under Mr Trump.

However, the actor said he would rather devote his energy to helping US military veterans.

Officials on high alert in New York

Elsewhere in the country, tens of thousands of merrymakers have converged on New York's Times Square for New Year's Eve celebrations, under an unprecedented blanket of security.

As many as two million people, surrounded by a ring of 40-tonne sand trucks and some 7000 police, were expected to attend.

Even though city and federal officials said they were not aware of any credible threats, a protective perimeter of 65 sanitation trucks filled with sand, as well as about 100 other smaller vehicles, has been put up around the area.

Placed in strategic positions, the "blockers" were intended to prevent a repetition of the 2016 truck attacks in Berlin and Nice.

- Reuters / BBC / RNZ

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