In his first press conference after Election Day, President Barack Obama seemed to try to minimize fears that President-elect Donald Trump would isolate America from its commitments abroad.
“He expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships, and so one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the Transatlantic Alliance,” Obama said in response to a question about Trump’s potential foreign policy priorities.
“I think that’s one of the most important functions that I can serve at this stage during this trip, is to let them know that there is no weakening of resolve when it comes to America’s commitment to maintaining a strong and robust NATO relationship and a recognition that those alliances are not just good for Europe, they’re good for the United States and vital for the world,” he continued.
Later, Obama addressed Trump’s frequent campaign promise to “tear up” a deal with Iran which has curbed the country’s nuclear ambitions. Obama said his administration and Israeli officials have “over a year of evidence that they have abided by the agreement.”
“To unravel a deal that is working and preventing Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon would be hard to explain,” he said, “particularly if the alternative were to have them freed from any obligations and go ahead pursue a weapon.”
“When you are not responsible for something, it’s easy to call it a terrible deal,” he said later in his answer.
The same logic, Obama said, applied to the Paris agreement on climate change.
“You have 200 countries that signed up for this thing,” he said. “The good news is that what we have been able to show over the last five, six, eight years is that it’s possible to grow the economy really fast and possible to bring down carbon emissions as well. It’s not just a bunch of rules we set up.”
“The biggest threat when it comes to climate change and pollution is not going to come from us,” he continued. “We only have 300 million people. It’s going to come from China, with over a billion people, and India with over a billion people. If they are pursuing the same kind of strategies that we did before we became more aware of the environment, then our kids are going to be choked off.”
The press conference came on the eve of a presidential trip to Greece, Germany and Peru this week, where the President will likely face nervous questions from world leaders about Trump’s commitment to their national security and other objectives.