WASHINGTON -  President-elect Donald Trump has hinted that he may lift sanctions on Russia and won’t stand by the “One China” policy unless Beijing improves its currency and trade practices.

Trump told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Friday that he would keep intact “at least for a period of time” sanctions President Barack Obama’s administration imposed on Russia last month over Moscow’s alleged cyberattacks to influence the US election.

But, if Russia helps the US on key goals such as fighting violent extremists, Trump suggested he may scrap the punitive measures altogether.

He also said he was prepared to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin after taking office January 20.

Trump, who sees an opportunity to cooperate with Moscow in fighting militant groups like Islamic State, has expressed admiration for Putin, and only reluctantly accepted US intelligence’s conclusion that Russian hackers acting on Putin’s authority interfered in the US elections.

Turning to the longstanding US practice of not recognizing Taiwan diplomatically, Trump said: “Everything is under negotiation, including One China.”

Trump has already irked China by accepting a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen after he won the election, upending decades of diplomatic precedent in which the White House has foregone direct communication with the island’s leader. He defended that move in his interview with the Journal, saying: “We sold them $2 billion of military equipment last year. We can sell them $2 billion of the latest and greatest military equipment but we’re not allowed to accept a phone call. First of all, it would have been very rude not to accept the phone call.”

Beijing considers the island to be a breakaway province to be brought back within its fold, by force if necessary

Trump has threatened to get tough with what he sees as unfair Chinese trade practices, and suggested that the “One China” policy could become a bargaining chip in other disputes.

Meanwhile, Russia’s deputy foreign minister on Saturday declined to comment on reported calls between president-elect Donald Trump’s incoming national security advisor and Moscow’s ambassador to Washington.

Asked to comment on the reported calls, deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told RIA Novosti news agency that “we don’t comment on daily working contacts of our embassy or foreign ministry representatives with colleagues from other countries, including the United States.”

The Washington Post reported that Flynn telephoned Moscow’s ambassador to Washington Sergei Kislyak, several times on December 28.

It said Kislyak extended an invitation for the incoming administration to attend peace talks on Syria to be hosted by Russia and Turkey in Kazakhstan, which are planned for January 23, three days after Trump’s inauguration.

Trump’s incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, said the pair spoke by phone on December 28 about “the logistics of setting up a call with the president of Russia and the president-elect after he was sworn in, and they exchanged logistical information on how to initiate and schedule that call.”

He added: “That was it. Plain and simple.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday that invitations to attend the peace talks in Astana were likely to be sent out next week, with both Turkey and Russia agreeing that the United States should be involved.

 

 

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