US President-elect Donald Trump told the New York Times on Tuesday that it would be a “a great achievement” to help mediate a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, adding that his son-in-law, Jewish millionaire Jared Kushner, could play a role in the negotiations.
“I would be happy to be the one who makes peace between Israel and the Palestinians, ” Trump said.
Trump sat down with the NYT after months of antagonistic exchanges, including last minute drama wherein an expected meeting between the two sides was cancelled after Trump claimed the NYT changed the terms and conditions of the meeting.
However, after several hours and an about-face, Trump appeared at the NYT building in New York to complain about the coverage of his campaign and his desire for improved relations with the paper.
Among the issues discussed during the meeting was Hillary Clinton, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Steve Bannon, global warming and another potential meeting with Barack Obama.
In what was perceived as another reversal of statements made during his campaign, Trump backed down from both pursuing criminal charges against Hillary Clinton and global warming.
Concerning Clinton, Trump said he is not interested in renewing the e-mail scandal that marred her campaign because he is not interested in “harming the Clintons.” He further added that he has no desire to “go back and go through it again” and is only interested in moving forward.
In regards to global warming, Trump also backtracked on previous statements and said that he is “keeping an open mind on the issue, ” when it comes to the US possibly backing out of the Paris climate accord. Trump said that he believes there is a certain connection between changes in the climate and human activities and emphasized that “clean air is an important thing.”
Following a question from a NTY staffer on Steve Bannon and the “Alt-right, ” Trump addressed the controversial appointment and said that Bannon “is not a racist.” Furthermore, regarding the activities of the group, including the infamous ‘hail Trump’ rally , the President-elect “disavows” the group.
The meeting was concluded with Trump signaling willingness to meet again with President Barack Obama, saying that before their previous meeting, “I didn’t know if I would like it. I probably thought I wouldn’t, but I did like it. I had a great time, really. It was a great meeting.”
The White House commented Wednesday that Trump and Obama had spoken again after their first meeting in the Oval Office and White House spokesman Josh Earnest emphasized Obama’s commitment to a successful transfer of power, rather than adding the details of the conversation between the two.