US President Donald Trump told reporters on Sunday before boarding Air Force One in New Jersey that the United States would not do any business with the Chinese tech giant, citing “national security reasons”. Trump stressed that a decision on the matter will be made on Monday.
The US president also said that he had discussed the impact of tariffs against China with Apple CEO Tim Cook. Trump said Cook “made a good case” that tariffs could hurt Apple given that Samsung’s products would not be subject to those same tariffs.
“I thought he made a very compelling argument, so I’m thinking about it”, Trump said.
The US Department of Commerce earlier issued a 90-day temporary general license to Huawei, which allows US companies to continue doing business with the Chinese firm until the end of August.
Huawei is under enormous pressure after Trump added the Chinese smartphone vendor to the so-called Entity List of the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. US companies are prohibited from doing business with firms included in the list.
Amid escalating trade frictions between the United States and China, the White House planned to postpone a decision on granting licenses that would allow US companies to continue doing business with Huawei, Bloomberg reported earlier this week.
Trump Praises ‘Very Good’ Talks with Taliban, Afghan Government
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Trump said the latest peace talks between the Taliban and the authorities of Afghanistan discussions were “very good” and that the aim was to bring down the number of the US troops in the region to below 13,000. Trump added, however, that the Pentagon is going to leave a “very significant” intelligence capability in Afghanistan.
“We’re having very good discussions with the Taliban. We’re having very good discussions with the Afghan government […] “We’ve really got it down to probably 13,000 people and we’ll be bringing it down a little bit more and then we’ll decide whether or not we’ll be staying longer or not […] “We have things under control very well with the small force. We can probably make it a little bit smaller and then we’ll decide […] It’ll depend on the Taliban, it’ll depend on the Afghan government”, Trump said.
“I think it’s very important that we continue intelligence there in all cases, because it is somewhat of a nest for hitting us”, the US president added.
Earlier, Trump held a meeting at his gold club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with almost all of his senior security appointees and cabinet officials, regarding the situation in Afghanistan. The White House said the meeting went well and that negotiations are proceeding.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, after the meeting, said the United States is working on a path forward in Afghanistan and remains committed to a ceasefire and talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban.
Parallels Between Hong Kong Protests, Tiananmen Square Riot
Commenting on the ongoing protest in China’s semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong, Trump suggested seeing parallels between the current unrest and the student-led protest in Beijing on Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Trump said that if China used violence against protesters in Hong Kong, it would possible negatively impact the US-China trade deal, adding that he viewed Chinese President Xi Jinping as a talented leader and hoped Xi would sit down with protesters to find a peaceful solution to the political crisis without the use of violence.
“I think it’d be very hard to deal if they do violence, I mean, if it’s another Tiananmen Square […] I think it’s a very hard thing to do if there’s violence”, Trump said.
Mass protests erupted in Hong Kong in early June in response to a controversial bill that would allow the extradition of dissidents to the mainland. Although the local parliament eventually announced that it had suspended the bill, protests continue with demands that the bill be officially withdrawn from the record. The rallies have been predominantly peaceful although there have been many reports of alleged infiltrators instigating a handful of violent clashes involving protesters and the police.
On 4 June 1989, a student-led protest in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was taken down by the army, leaving over 200 dead and 7,000 injured, according to official estimates. Human rights activists, however, have noted the death toll to be in the thousands.
Trump also suggested on Sunday, that China “definitely wants to make a deal” on trade.
Tariffs on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, including consumer electronics, are scheduled to go into effect in two stages on 1 September and December 15.
‘Iran Would Like to Talk’
The US president also noted that the Iranian-flagged oil tanker Grace 1 was released by the authorities of Gibraltar. Trump is reported to have suggested that “Iran would like to talk” about the tanker.
“We can do something very fast, but they don’t quite know how to begin”, Trump told reporters on Sunday.
Gibraltar authorities, supported by UK marines, formally detained the tanker on suspicion of violating EU sanctions in early July. Acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell claimed, however, that the vessel was detained at the request of the United States, which has long sought to stop Iranian oil exports. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi denied that the tanker was transporting oil to Syria.
On Saturday, The US Department of Justice issued a warrant to seize the Grace 1, ruling that the vessel, its cargo and $995,000 in cash found on board are subject to confiscation over violations of US laws on bank fraud and money laundering, as well as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the law on confiscation for terrorism-related activities.
Authorities in Gibraltar have, however, rejected the US request to extend the seizure of the tanker, citing differences in US and European sanctions against Iran.
Later on Sunday, a marine traffic monitoring site also showed that the Iranian supertanker was moving away from Gibraltar.
A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Abbas Mousavi, stressed that the Grace 1 never headed to Syria, adding that written proof in the form of a logbook aboard the ship, as well as legal notes that Iran passed on to Gibraltar on Thursday, provided concrete evidence of its innocence.
Greenland ‘Not No. 1 on the Burner’
Trump, asked about his alleged plans to acquire Greenland, the world’s largest island, told reporters on Sunday that he was merely interested ‘strategically” in the purchase and that the issue was “not number 1 on the burner”.
“It’s something we talked about […] “The concept came up and I said certainly, strategically it’s interesting and we’d be interested, but we’ll talk to (Denmark) a little bit”, Trump said.
When asked if he would consider trading a US territory for Greenland, Trump replied that “a lot of things could be done”. “Essentially, it’s a large real estate deal […] It’s hurting Denmark very badly because they’re losing almost $700 million a year carrying it… and strategically, for the United States, it would be nice”, Trump said.
White House chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, confirmed earlier on Sunday that Trump was “looking at” the possible purchase of Greenland, even though authorities of this Danish autonomous country refused to entertain the story.
Earlier in the week, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources in the White House, that Trump had inquired about the possibility of purchasing the island “with varying degrees of seriousness” and listened as his advisers discussed the territory’s “abundant resources and geopolitical importance.” The US leader reportedly asked his counsel in the White House to study the idea of a purchase that could boost the US military presence in the Arctic.
Reacting to reports, Greenland’s Foreign Ministry said that while the world’s largest island is open for tourism and business, it is “not for sale”.
Middle East Peace Plan
Commenting on a much-anticipated Middle East peace plan that, according to the Trump administration, could end the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the US president vowed to release the entire document only after the September Israeli elections.
For decades, Palestinians have sought recognition of their independent state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli government has refused to recognize Palestine as an independent political and diplomatic entity and continues to build settlements in the occupied territories.
In late June, the Trump administration unveiled only economic offers of a so-called peace plan, including a purported $50 billion investment. Palestinian leadership boycotted the meetings and the plan as a bribe attempt.
Trump Affirms Mike Pence as His 2020 Running Mate
Trump said on Sunday that he would keep Vice President Mike Pence as his running mate while campaigning for his 2020 re-election. “I’m very happy with Mike Pence”, Trump declared.
According to the latest reports, US voters are paying attention to the 2020 presidential campaign with a level of interest not seen in the past 30 years, with Democrats particularly excited by a large field of candidates seeking their party’s nomination, as well as the necessity of unseating the Republican incumbent.
The present interest in presidential politics is 9 percentage points higher than in the summer of 2015 and 10 or more points higher than similar points for all elections dating back to 1987, the PEW Research Center said, in a new report.
No Recession Expected
Trump touched upon economic issues, asserting that his administration’s tax cuts and reforms have given consumers money to spend.
“I don’t think we’re having a recession […] We’re doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut and they’re loaded up with money”, Trump said.
Earlier, the US Treasury Department revealed that the US government’s budget deficit soared by almost 27 percent, compared to the same 10-month period the previous fiscal year.
The US deficit for the first ten months of Fiscal Year 2019, according to the data, rose to $866.8 billion, exceeding the full-year figure for last year which was $779 billion.
For the month of July alone, the deficit rose to $119.7 billion, $48 billion above the same month last year.
The Congressional Budget Office expects the deficit to break the $1 trillion mark in 2020, largely due to Trump’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.