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Obama and I have a really good chemistry together, says Trump

US President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump a re trading phone calls and pleasantries, just months after regularly flinging insults back and forth.

Membership in one of the world's most exclusive clubs, the club of US presidents, appears to have a way of changing things, with Mr Trump talking about letting bygones be bygones.

"I've now gotten to know President Obama. I really like him," he said on NBC's Today programme after Time magazine announced him as its Person of the Year.

"We have, I think I can say, at least for myself, I can't speak for him, but we have a really good chemistry together. We talk."

Mr Trump continued: "He loves the country. He wants to do right by the country and for the country, and I will tell you, we obviously very much disagree on certain policies and certain things but, you know, I really like him as a president."

Mr Obama has not been quite as effusive in his comments about Mr Trump since the November 8 election.

But he has repeatedly urged the public and world leaders concerned about a Trump presidency to adopt a "wait-and-see" approach.

His argument is that campaigning is different to governing, and that the reality of holding office will lead Mr Trump to alter his thinking in some cases.

"That's just the way this office works," Mr Obama said.

It is unclear how genuine a friendship may develop between two men who have little in common beyond the presidency, or whether it is just Mr Obama exercising a little presidential decorum, leaving the past behind and showing his commitment to a smooth hand-off to the next administration.

It is not the tone many expected just a few months ago.

Mr Obama spent much of the campaign almost gleefully denouncing the showy New York businessman as "temperamentally unfit" and "uniquely unqualified" to lead the world's most powerful nation.

Mr Trump was not shy about responding, tweeting at one point that Mr Obama "will go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States!"

Mr Trump also spent years fomenting the "birther" issue and trying to undermine Mr Obama with false claims that he was not a US citizen, and therefore an illegitimate president.

For that, Mr Obama publicly humiliated Mr Trump at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in 2011, ridiculing his turn as host of a reality TV show and spreader of the birther theories.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest has acknowledged that Mr Obama and Mr Trump have had "at least a handful" of telephone conversations since their 90-minute Oval Office meeting on November 10.

But Mr Earnest declined to say what they talk about or characterise the relationship between them.

He did say Mr Trump initiated at least one of the calls.

Mr Trump had said at the White House that he would probably be calling on Mr Obama for his "counsel", which turns out not to have been just bluster.

Paul Light, a New York University professor who studies government, said Mr Obama could simply show Mr Trump two photos, one each from Mr Obama's first and final State of the Union addresses, to illustrate the "ageing process" that is the 24-hour, seven-day-a-week presidency.

"What Obama can do for him is kind of help bring him up to date or help him understand what he's gotten himself into," Mr Light said of Mr Trump, who is 70.

"Trump may be up to the task, but he doesn't know what the task is."

Ross Baker, a Rutgers University politics professor, said Mr Trump may be sending a "message of reassurance that he is aware of his own limitations" by publicising his outreach to Mr Obama.

"There's no kind of handbook on how to be president," Mr Baker said.

AP

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