Greece prime minister says US relationship at its best since WWII — live updates

October 17, 2017 7:40 pm
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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday at a joint press conference with President Trump said his country’s relationship with the U.S. is perhaps at its “best” since World War II, despite once predicting a Trump presidency would be “evil.”

Tsipras said the relationship between the U.S. and Greece is thriving, as Greece comes out of an economic crisis and begins to attract investments and increase trade, thanks in part to the U.S. But Tsipras, asked head on what he thinks of Mr. Trump now, after casting his presidency in such a negative light last year, said he and Mr. Trump had a very productive conversation. Tsipras said the meeting presented a “fertile” ground for the two countries to work together, despite any disagreements. 

“We have common values,” Tsipras said, using a translator. “Don’t forget that the value of democracy and freedom was born in Greece. It’s one of the values that traverses American culture and American tradition. The President now continues that tradition.”

Mr. Trump, when a reporter posed the question about the “evil” remark to the Greek prime minister, joked, “I wish I knew that before my speech.” Mr. Trump had praised the U.S.-Greece relationship as a special and strong one. 

As Mr. Trump and Tsipras held their press conference, the State Department announced it has approved a possible sale for an upgrade of F-16 aircraft to Greece, at an estimated cost of $2.4 billion. The deal still needs formal approval and Congress needs to be officially notified. 

Mr. Trump calls on NATO nations to invest more in their own defense, although Greece is one of the few nations that does contribute at least 2 percent. Mr. Trump has indicated the U.S. may increase its investment in NATO, an entity he once called  obsolete before reversing his position on its existence. 

According to the White House, Tsipras and Mr. Trump met about ways to enhance their partnership, and discuss defense cooperation, economic investment and energy security. Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump praised Greece as a great ally and friend through the years. 

“They’re doing a terrific job of coming back,” Mr. Trump said. “They will be back. We’re working with them on many things.”

Something that did not come up during the Trump-Tsipras press conference was a controversy Mr. Trump started by appearing to claim former President Barack Obama didn’t call the families of slain soldiers, after Mr. Trump failed to call the families of four soldiers killed in Niger. Mr. Trump also brought White House chief of staff John Kelly and his deceased son into the equation, questioning whether Obama called Kelly when his son was killed overseas while serving in the military in 2010. The White House so would only comment on background about the answer to that question.

Live updates from earlier below:


2:11 p.m. Trump says he’s aware of attempt to stabilize Obamacare 

Mr. Trump said senators are working diligently on a deal to stabilize health care markets, after Republicans failed to repeal and replace Obamacare legislatively and Mr. Trump began issuing executive orders on health care instead. 

“This is a short-term deal,”Mr. Trump said. 

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and Patty Murray, D-Washington, are looking to find an agreement to stabilizing the health care markets until Congress devises a longer-term legislative fix. 

2:09 p.m. Trump has “great confidence” in Greece

Mr. Trump said he has “great confidence” in Greece and its future, as it continues to recover. The president said the U.S. is “helping Greece get back on its feet.”

“We have a tremendous Greek population in this country,” he said, adding the country has “great potential.” 

2:04 p.m. Trump says plenty of countries were “nervous” when he took office

The president said a number of countries were “nervous” about his incoming presidency, because he intended to place America first. 

“But we’re just not going to allow the United States to be taken advantage of by other countries anymore,” Mr. Trump said. 

2:02 p.m. Tsipras asked about “evil” comment

The Greek prime minister was asked what he thought, after his earlier comment that Trump represented an “evil” set of ideas that did not mesh with western democracy. The Greek prime minister responded by saying the conversation he had with Mr. Trump presented “fertile” ground for working together, despite any disagreements. He called the meeting very productive.

2 p.m.  Trump says insurance companies have had an “incredible” run

The president, asked what his health care plan is, discussed how he thinks Obamacare is failing. Last week, Mr. Trump ended payments to insurance companies that went to subsidize health care costs for lower-income Americans. 

1:52 p.m. Greek PM: The Greek-U.S. relationship maybe at its “best”

Tsipras said the relationship between the two countries may be at its “best” since World War II. Greece, he said, is coming out of a crisis and beginning to “attract” investments and “increase” its trade, from the U.S. balance of trade. Greece is also leaving behind the economic model that led to the crisis, he said. Greece, he said, is a “pillar” of strength and cooperation in one of the most unstable areas of the planet. 

1:46 p.m. Trump says he’s “very happy” about the stock market numbers 

The president started out his news conference by praising the stock market numbers, as the Dow topped 23,000 for the first time on Tuesday. 

 
 

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