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US is truly a nation in mourning after Las Vegas massacre, says Trump

President Donald Trump said "America is truly a nation in mourning" after visiting victims of the Las Vegas shooting massacre.

"We cannot be defined by the evil that threatens us or the violence that incites such terror," Mr Trump said at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police headquarters, reading from prepared remarks.

"We are defined by our love, our caring and our courage."

Mr Trump and first lady Melania Trump met privately with victims of the shooting at a hospital, praising them and the doctors who treated them as he visited the city.

He also met police officers, dispatchers and others who had responded to the shooting on Sunday night, telling them: "You showed the world and the world is watching, and you showed what professionalism is all about."

He waved off questions about the availability of firearms - the gunman had a huge arsenal of weapons - saying this is not the time to discuss the possibility of further restrictions.

Mr Trump's first stop was the University Medical Center, where he spent 90 minutes meeting victims, their families and medical professionals.

He said he had met "some of the most amazing people" and had extended some invitations to visit him in Washington.

He also commended the doctors who had worked to save them for doing an "indescribable" job. "It makes you very proud to be an American when you see the job that they've done," he said.

On his trip from the airport, the president's motorcade drove past the Mandalay Bay hotel where gunman Stephen Paddock fired down into the concert crowd.

The Sunday night rampage killed at least 59 people and injured 527, some from gunfire and some from a chaotic escape.

He also passed his own Trump hotel on his way toward the entertainment strip. Before leaving the White House, he had said: "It's a very, very sad day for me personally."

Until his final remarks, Mr Trump focused his comments during the trip on praising recovery efforts rather than on grieving for the dead.

But he concluded by saying: "Our souls are stricken with grief for every American who lost a husband or a wife, a mother or a father, a son or a daughter. We know that your sorrow feels endless. We stand together to help you carry your pain. You are not alone. We will never leave your side."

Mr Trump's trip to Las Vegas follows his Tuesday visit to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico - a pair of back-to-back episodes that are testing his ability to unite and lift the nation in times of strife.

Mr Trump, a leader who excels at political provocation and prides himself on commanding strength, has sometimes struggled to project empathy.

During Tuesday's trip, he highlighted Puerto Rico's relatively low death toll compared with "a real catastrophe like Katrina", when as many as 1,800 people died in 2005 as levees protecting New Orleans broke.

He also pointed repeatedly to praise his administration had received for its efforts, despite criticism on the island of a sluggish response.

AP

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