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The Latest: Obama stresses enduring commitment to Japan

Two women react after greeting U.S. President Barack Obama, back to camera, who earlier spoke at a town hall with Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) in Lima, Peru, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. Obama, who is in Peru to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), will close a three-nation, post-U.S. election tour the same way he opened it: by reassuring leaders from around the world that U.S. democracy isn't broken and that everything will be fine when Republican Donald Trump succeed him next year. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
November 20, 2016 - 3:12 PM

LIMA, Peru - The Latest on President Barack Obama's final official foreign trip (all times local):

7:00 p.m.

President Barack Obama is affirming the enduring U.S. commitment to Japan in a brief meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The two met on Sunday on the sidelines of the APEC economic summit in Lima, Peru. A White House official said Obama stressed America's commitment to Japan, and expressed his gratitude for years of successful co-operation that strengthened the alliance between the two countries.

The meeting follows Abe's face-to-face session with President-elect Donald Trump in New York on Thursday evening. Abe was the first foreign leader to meet in person with the incoming U.S. president. He later said he was confident that Trump "is a trustworthy leader."


6:40 p.m.

President Barack Obama says that he does not intend to be a constant critic of his successor — but he's reserving the right to reengage in politics when he's out of office.

In a press conference in Lima, Peru, Obama says he wants to give President-elect Donald Trump the opportunity to put forward his platform. But he also says he will consider whether or not he needs to defend the "ideals" that he cares about as an American citizen.

Obama says that as an "American citizen who cares deeply about our country," he will review any issues that may arise after he leaves office and decide "if I think that it's necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals."

While he didn't go into great detail, he said the issues that might compel him to get involved would have less to do with legislative proposals than with "core questions about our values and ideals.

President typically reserve from criticizing their predecessors and step away from electoral politics after their time in office.


6:35 p.m.

President Barack Obama says that when he took office, he decided to liquidate assets that might have raised questions about his policy and turn them into Treasury bills — financial instruments that he joked have not had great yields during his eight years in office.

Obama says his assets were significantly smaller than those of previous presidents and presidents-elect, including Donald Trump. But he decided that to avoid questions about conflict of interest, it was best not to just meet the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law.

He says he told Trump that he would be well-served by a strong White House counsel who could set rules and boundaries for his team to eliminate ambiguity.

But he says it's up to Trump to determine how best to deal with his vast business assets.


6:30 p.m.

President Barack Obama says politics in America "right now are a little up for grabs" and Democrats "have to do some thinking" about how they can get their message across to the American people.

Obama was asked about the future of the Democratic Party at a news conference following an economic summit meeting in Peru. When Obama took office in 2009, Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress, and held a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Yet Democrats lost the House in 2010, and the Senate four years later. Republicans also hold a strong advantage in governorships and state legislatures.

Obama noted that majorities of Americans agree with many Democratic positions, mentioning a minimum wage increase, gun curbs, and affordable health care. So the party doesn't need "a complete overhaul," he said, but better organization and a "smarter" message.

Democrats have to talk to the American people as a whole, and not focus as much on "micro-targeting particular, discreet groups," he said. That approach "is not going to win you the broad mandate that you need."


6:10 p.m.

President Barack Obama is dodging a question about whether he intends to fire the director of the National Security Agency, saying only that Adm. Mike Rogers is a "terrific patriot."

Obama spoke Sunday at a news conference at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru.

Obama was asked about a recommendation from Defence Secretary Ash Carter and National Intelligence Director James Clapper that Rogers be dismissed before the president leaves office.

It's unclear exactly why they recommended his ouster.

Rogers' tenure has been tainted by the theft of classified material from the agency and he has been mentioned as a candidate for a position in President-elect Donald Trump's administration. Rogers met with Trump last week.

Also, Rogers oversees NSA and the U.S. Cyber Command and is in the middle of a debate over whether the two should be split and run by two individuals. Obama wouldn't say what he plans to do, but acknowledged that his administration has been spending a lot of time deciding how best to organize the U.S. cyber effort.


6:05 p.m.

President Barack Obama is reaffirming his support for a controversial trade agreement strongly criticized by his successor.

President-elect Donald Trump has called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade deal negotiated by the Obama administration a "job killer" and a "disaster" pushed by special interests.

In a news conference Sunday at the closing of an economic summit in Peru, Obama said the United States should not retreat from global trade, but seek to "do trade right" so that workers are protected and environmental standards are upheld.

Obama argued it's time for the U.S. to reaffirm its support for the TPP trade deal. He said other world leaders at the summit made clear they want to move ahead with the agreement, and without the U.S. it will be a weaker deal. The U.S. would lose an opportunity to shape the rules of global trade "in a way that reflects our values," Obama said.


5:45 p.m.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin says he and President-elect Donald Trump share an interest in normalizing relations between the U.S. and Russia.

At a press conference following an economic summit in Peru, Putin said that Trump "reaffirmed his intent to normalize relations with Russia" in their recent phone call, "and I naturally said the same."

Putin says that there is a big difference between "pre-election rhetoric and actual policy" in most countries, and that it remains to be seen how well the situation will evolve and how successful Trump will be at solving the challenges facing the country.

Putin also commented on his brief discussion with President Barack Obama earlier in the day, saying they both acknowledged dialogue between the U.S. and Russia "was hard." He says he would be happy to see Obama in Russia.


4:10 p.m.

President Barack Obama says he has no doubt the close and important relationship between the U.S. and Canada will continue after he leaves office.

Obama is meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during an economic summit in Peru. He says those bonds have been constant throughout Republican and Democratic administrations.

Obama is praising Trudeau for his country's leadership on climate change, refugees and humanitarian issues.

Trudeau is returning the praise to Obama and says the U.S.-Canada relationship is deep and important. He says he's invited President-elect Donald Trump to visit Canada soon after Inauguration Day and hopes to welcome him to Canada.

Trump has vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement after taking office.


2:37 p.m.

President Barack Obama is assuring Australia's prime minister that the relationship between their two countries "transcends party politics."

Obama met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, on Sunday.

Turnbull said that it was a "great moment but a sad moment" to be meeting with Obama for the last time. He said he has already spoken with President-elect Donald Trump and shared his views on a number of issues, particularly trade and the fight against the Islamic State group.

Obama assured Turnbull that he would do everything he can to ensure "a strong handoff" and "continuity" in their relationship with the Trump administration.


1:28 p.m.

Another APEC summit? Another "family" photo of the leaders wearing the host country's native garb.

President Barack Obama, attending his final summit, joined the revelry with his counterparts, sporting a traditional, camel colored shawl of the kind worn by Peruvian herders in the Andes. The shawls were made of cashmere-like vicuna wool.

Each year, leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit dress up for their group photo.

Obama broke from the tradition when the U.S. hosted the 2011 summit in Hawaii. Hawaiian shirts were handed out, but leaders were told they weren't obligated to wear them in public.

None did. They all wore business suits for the photo.


12:10 p.m.

The White House says President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Syria and Ukraine during a four-minute conversation at the start of a summit in Peru.

A White House description of the meeting says after exchanging pleasantries, Obama encouraged Putin to uphold his country's commitments under the Minsk deal aimed at ending the conflict. Obama emphasized the commitment by the U.S. and its allies to Ukraine's sovereignty.

The White House says Obama called for Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to keep working in initiatives with other countries to lower violence in Syria and alleviate suffering. A series of diplomatic efforts involving the U.S. and Russia have been unsuccessful at reducing violence in a sustainable way.


11:20 a.m.

President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are speaking to each other as an economic summit gets under way in Peru.

Obama and Putin were seen chatting as reporters were allowed in briefly for the start of the opening session of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima. They stood off to the side together momentarily before shaking hands and then taking their seats around a table.

It was unclear what the two were discussing, and their words weren't audible to journalists present.

Obama and Putin have long had a strained relationship. President-elect Donald Trump's election has raised speculation and concern he might do less to challenge Russian aggression.

Obama and Putin aren't expected to have any formal meetings while both are in Peru.


11:00 a.m.

President Barack Obama is holding separate meetings with the leaders of Australia and Canada before he wraps up the final foreign trip of his presidency.

He'll meet Sunday with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in between other sessions with world leaders attending an annual Asia-Pacific summit being held in Lima, Peru.

Obama also planned to take questions from the journalists who accompanied him to Greece, Germany and Peru before he flies back to Washington.

Some of those questions are likely to be about Donald Trump, whose election to succeed Obama overshadowed much of the president's trip.

Obama sought to reassure concerned leaders that the U.S. will stay true to its commitments despite the election of a president who opposed Obama on practically every issue.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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