President-elect Donald Trump says he will keep the latest sanctions on Russia in place “for a period of time” but is open to lifting them if Moscow cooperates on issues of mutual interest. Trump also says he is not committed to a longstanding agreement with China over Taiwan.
His remarks came in an hour-long interview with The Wall Street Journal on Friday.
Although several sanctions on Russia were imposed in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea, the latest measures, as well as the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, were imposed by the Obama administration last month in response to evidence Russia hacked Democratic Party officials during the presidential election.
Trump’s comments come days after CNN’s report regarding classified documents presented to Obama and Trump during an intelligence briefing last week that contained unsubstantiated and potentially compromising information about the president-elect.
“If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?” Trump said in the Journal interview. He added, however, he would keep the latest sanctions in place “at least for a period of time.”
Trump acknowledged for the first time this week that he accepts Russia was behind the hacking. But he questioned whether officials were leaking information about their meetings with him, warning that would be a “tremendous blot” on their record.
The president-elect also told the Journal he is willing to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin after he takes office next week. “I understand that they would like to meet, and that’s absolutely fine with me,” Trump added.
Regarding China, Trump was specifically asked whether he supports the U.S. “One China” policy on Taiwan, which declares the province as part of China. Trump’s response: “Everything is under negotiation, including One China.”
The remarks come only weeks after Trump’s unprecedented phone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen shortly after the November election. There has been no communication between the leaders of the United States and Taiwan since 1979.
China reacted sternly to the call, which Trump described as merely a post-election courtesy, but noted that Trump was not yet officially president. Beijing has indicated it would react more strongly if Trump moves to undermine the longstanding, mutual policy regarding Taiwan once he takes office.
But Trump’s latest comments appear to represent a departure from remarks by his advisers in early December that the phone call did not signify any formal shift in long-standing U.S. relations with Taiwan or China.
In mid-December, An Fengshan, a spokesman for China’s policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office, warned of more serious consequences if U.S. shifts positions on the Taiwan issue.
“Upholding the ‘One China’ principle is the political basis of developing China-U.S. relations, and is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” he said, according to the BBC.
“If this basis is interfered with or damaged, then the healthy, stable development of China-U.S. relations is out of the question, and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait will be seriously impacted,” he added.