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U.S. President Barack Obama Makes Last Foreign Trip of his Presidency

Trump has repeatedly spoken against international agreements reached during Obama's presidency

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President Barack Obama back from vacation (representational image) VOA

November 15, 2016: U.S. President Barack Obama departs Monday on the final planned foreign trip of his presidency, and his advisors expect President-elect Donald Trump will be a primary topic of discussion with other leaders.

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said the itinerary with stops in Greece, Germany and Peru is a signal of solidarity to the country’s closest allies and a way to show “support for a strong and integrated and united Europe.”

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The only major planned speech is in Greece, on Wednesday, addressing work that remains to tackle economic challenges there and elsewhere in the world while promoting inclusive growth and combating inequality.

Rhodes said Obama will also, in talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, express support for what the Greek people have gone through in response to their economic crisis that brought international bailouts and strict requirements for cutting spending and public services.

FILE - German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens to Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech during the opening ceremony of the G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou, Sept. 4, 2016. VOA
FILE – German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech during the opening ceremony of the G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou, Sept. 4, 2016. VOA

Berlin leg

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosts Obama for talks Thursday. Rhodes highlighted the importance of the relationship, calling Merkel “the president’s closest partner over the course of his entire presidency.”

The leaders of Britain, France, Italy and Spain will also be in Berlin for meetings Friday that are expected to include the ongoing fight against Islamic State, issues related to migration, the situation in Ukraine, and last week’s U.S. election.

Trump has repeatedly spoken against international agreements reached during Obama’s presidency, including the deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program, the international climate deal that went into effect last month and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that has not cleared the U.S. Congress. He also defeated Obama’s fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton.

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FILE - White House Deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes speaks to reporters during a press briefing, Aug. 22, 2014, in Edgartown, Massachusetts. VOA
FILE – White House Deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes speaks to reporters during a press briefing, Aug. 22, 2014, in Edgartown, Massachusetts. VOA

Ongoing issues

Rhodes said to reporters in previewing the trip that no matter the outcome of the election, Obama and the rest of his administration have a stake in seeing the next one succeed, and that the world also has a similar interest.

“There are many ongoing issues that we’re working on that are deeply relevant to our security that we will want to discuss, and, again, agreements and alliances that have perpetuated over decades under administrations of many different stripes,” he said.

In terms of the TPP, Obama is expected to meet with the other leaders involved in that deal during his stop in Peru to go over how Trump’s election affects the pact and other trade issues. He also has a meeting scheduled with President Xi Jinping of China, which is not part of the TPP.

FILE - Leaders wave as they pose for a group family photo at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines. VOA
FILE – Leaders wave as they pose for a group family photo at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines. VOA

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Asia

Obama made the Asia-Pacific region a major focus of his foreign policy, and in Peru his main agenda will be talking with leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Trump could decide on a different stance toward Asia, but Rhodes said that because of the region’s growth and the number of treaty and trade partners the U.S. has there, he believes it will remain a priority. (VOA)

Next Story

U.S. President Donald Trump Interviews Indian American Judge Under Consideration

However, other factors such as immigration, the powers of the president and any possible litigation involving the 2016 election of Trump and the alleged Russian interference are at play.

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Earlier on Monday, Trump appointed his Deputy Principal Press Secretary Raj Shah to a key role in the difficult process of getting his nominee for the Supreme Court approved by the Senate. VOA

Indian American federal appeals court judge Amul Thapar has emerged as a “serious” contender for a spot in the US Supreme court and has been interviewed for the position by President Donald Trump, according media reports.

He was one of four judges interviewed for the position on the nation’s highest court by Trump on Monday, according to The Washington Post and other media outlets that quoted unnamed sources who had been briefed about the meetings.

Trump’s Spokesperson Sarah Sanders confirmed that he met for 45 minutes with four candidates, but would not identify them.

Trump has said he would announce his pick next Monday.

Thapar was appointed by Trump last year to the federal Sixth Circuit Appeals Court based in Cincinnati, Ohio, that covers four states including his home state of Kentucky.

Considered a conservative, Thapar, 49, had served as a federal prosecutor before President George W. Bush appointed him a judge of the federal court for Eastern Kentucky by in 2007.

Thapar has the backing of Mitch McConnell, the influential Senate Majority Leader from Kentucky, for the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy last month.

“I think he’s absolutely brilliant, with the right temperament,” McConnell said on Saturday.

The Washington Post said Trump’s meeting with Thapar “was described by several White House aides as both a gesture of respect for the Senate GOP leader and evidence that he is in serious contention”.

He is the second Indian-American judge to be a leading contender for the Supreme Court showing the community’s reach across both parties and its influence.

Washington Appeals Court Judge Sri Srinivasan was among the top choices considered by then President Barack Obama for the Supreme Court in 2016.

Obama ultimately picked Merrick Garland but McConnell blocked the nomination refusing to take it up for Senate’s consideration citing the presidential election coming up later that year.

Earlier on Monday, Trump appointed his Deputy Principal Press Secretary Raj Shah to a key role in the difficult process of getting his nominee for the Supreme Court approved by the Senate.

“Raj Shah will oversee communications, strategy and messaging coordination with Capitol Hill allies,” Sanders said in a statement.

Legalised abortion that many countries like India take for granted is looming over the selection of the next Supreme Court judge, with many Senators making it the litmus test to vote for or against a nominee.

It is likely that a case involving abortions may come up before the Supreme Court leaving open the possibility a conservative majority bench could overturn its 1973 ruling legalising it.

During his election campaign Trump changed his stance and came out as an opponent of abortions and said that he would appoint judges with the same view.

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Raj Thapar told the newspaper that his son’s only dream was to become a Supreme Court Justice. Pixabay

But he said last week that he would not discuss with candidates their views on abortion.

The Republicans have slender two-vote lead in the 100-member Senate and at least one Senator from the party, Susan Collins, has said that keeping abortions legal would be a requirement for supporting the Trump nominee and another, Lisa Murkowski, has previously opposed efforts to overturn the 1973 ruling.

The 49 Democrats and the two independents are all expected to oppose any Trump nominee and Shah will have to work with Republicans in Congress to get a majority backing for the candidate.

However, other factors such as immigration, the powers of the president and any possible litigation involving the 2016 election of Trump and the alleged Russian interference are at play.

Thapar is widely considered to conservative in his approach, which aligns him with Trump and his base.

His father, Raj Thapar, told Courier Journal that his son is so conservative that he “nearly wouldn’t speak to me after I voted for Barack Obama.”

Thapar was born in Detroit and his family wanted him to become a doctor, but he chose law instead, the newspaper said.

Raj Thapar told the newspaper that his son’s only dream was to become a Supreme Court Justice.

Amul’s maternal grandfather had impressed on him how Mahatma Gandhi had defeated the British using non violence, Raj Thapar told the newspaper.

According his father, Amul had converted to Catholicism when he married Kim Schulte, a real estate agent, Courier Journal reported.

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During his election campaign Trump changed his stance and came out as an opponent of abortions and said that he would appoint judges with the same view. Pixabay

Thapar’s mother Veena Bhalla sold a successful restaurant after 9/11 to work as a civilian clinical social worker to help soldiers returning from the battlefield, the newspaper reported quoting McConnell.

Also Read: Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi Urges Indians To Report To Any Instance of Salary Delay

According to Thapar’s bio for a convention of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association his father had come to the US to study and after graduating went to work for Ford Motor Company.

Later, he bought a share of a heating and air conditioning company. (IANS)