Trump Meets on Cabinet Appointments

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Donald Trump girded Monday for a busy day of meetings to fill cabinet positions including US secretary of state, a keenly awaited choice as American allies and foes watch the president-elect engage in his unique, Twitter-heavy brand of foreign policy.

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Trump will have "a very full slate of meetings" as he looks to finalize key positions, senior aide Kellyanne Conway said Sunday.

America's allies and others are keenly awaiting Trump's choice for the top diplomat role, hopeful that it will offer clues to the direction US policy will take after he is sworn in on Jan. 20.

Based on Trump's Twitter activity on Sunday, relations with America's top trading partner may be headed for a downturn, with the businessman-turned-politician accusing China of expansionism and of fiddling the exchange rate, AFP reported.

"Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the US doesn't tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea?" he demanded, adding: "I don't think so!"

The taunt came two days after Trump provoked a rebuke from China by accepting a call from the president of Taiwan – the first such call in around four decades.

China regards self-ruling Taiwan as part of its own territory awaiting reunification, and any US move implying support for independence is gravely offensive to Beijing.

Washington does not formally recognize Taipei, and officially cleaves to a "One China" policy that says Beijing is the legitimate government.

In practice, the island enjoys many of the trappings of a full diplomatic relationship with the US.

Trump's incoming vice president, Mike Pence, played down the call's significance, describing it as a courtesy, and said any new policy on China would be decided after his inauguration.

However, US media reported Sunday that the call had been in the works for weeks, intended to signal a major shift in US policies toward Taiwan and China.

China was a frequent target for Trump during his presidential campaign and every sign points to his taking an aggressive line.

US politicians often accuse China of artificially depressing its currency, the renminbi, in order to boost its exports – its value has fallen by around 15 percent in the past two-and-half years.

Trump has vowed to declare China a "currency manipulator" on the first day of his presidency, which would oblige the US Treasury to open negotiations with Beijing on the renminbi.

With China holding about a trillion dollars in US government debt, Washington would have little leverage in such talks, but the declaration would harm ties and boost the prospect of a trade war.

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