So long from White House: Obama aims final messages at Trump

US President Barack Obama waves as he departs the briefing room at the conclusion of his final press conference at the White House in Washington, US, January 18, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama stepped behind the White House podium for the last time Wednesday, fielding questions from the crush of journalists crammed in for the occasion and offering assurances to Americans watching on TV.

But at times, his answers seemed aimed at an audience of one: the man who will replace him at noon Friday.

Obama gently chided Donald Trump’s suggestion that the US might end its sanctions on Russia over Ukraine in exchange for nuclear stockpile reductions, saying it was in America’s interest to make sure “we don’t confuse why these sanctions have been imposed with a whole set of other issues.”And, with Trump vowing to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a move that could further inflame tensions in the Middle East, Obama warned that when “sudden unilateral moves” are made in the region, the results can be explosive.

Obama also defended his decision to cut nearly three decades off convicted leaker Chelsea Manning’s prison term, a move Trump’s team has strongly criticized. Obama said the former Army intelligence analyst had served a “tough prison sentence” already.

With no elections left to win or legislative battles to fight, Obama used his parting words to deliver one set of messages to his successor, a man who is his opposite both temperamentally and politically. Obama said he expected a new president, particularly one from the opposing party, to “test old assumptions,” but he also suggested it would be important for the next administration to “understand that there are going to be consequences, and actions typically create reactions.”The very fact that Obama was holding the afternoon news conference in the White House briefing room served as a symbolic counter to Trump. The president-elect’s aides have raised the prospect of moving daily news briefings out of their traditional West Wing home, sparking fears of attempts to eventually push reporters out of the White House altogether.

Obama specifically addressed that worry: “Having you in this building has made this place work better,” he declared.

Source: China Daily

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