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Trump says Romney still in running for secretary of state post

Donald Trump has said he expects to select his secretary of state next week and former rival Mitt Romney still has a chance to win the post.

"Yes, he does," Mr Trump told NBC's Today programme.

Mr Romney, the 2012 presidential nominee, was blisteringly critical of Mr Trump on foreign policy and other issues during the businessman's campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

So Mr Trump's consideration of him - and Mr Romney's inclusion on the shortlist for one of the cabinet's most prestigious positions - has been a surprise.

Mr Trump has put Mr Romney through a very public audition process - and allowed aides to take the unusual step of denouncing him in interviews.

Over the weekend, Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Mr Trump was widening his search for his top diplomatic representative to the world, and a top transition official said that longtime Romney rival Jon Huntsman was now also in the running.

In another development, the president-elect, appearing at a Manhattan transition fundraiser, announced that he had selected Iowa governor Terry Branstad as the new US ambassador to China.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump was named Time magazine's Person of the Year, a choice the magazine's managing editor said was "straightforward" given that Mr Trump had upended politics-as-usual during the course of his extraordinary race for the White House.

That phenomenon is not over.

In one example, Mr Trump drew the ire of China and others last week by taking a phone call from the leader of Taiwan.

The New York Times reported that 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, now a lobbyist, co-ordinated that call.

The title, Mr Trump said, is "a great honour. It means a lot".

In a separate interview with Time, Mr Trump said he will "work something out" to help immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children and granted work visas by President Barack Obama.

Mr Trump's tough comments on immigrants during the campaign have led to fears among immigrant advocates that he would end Mr Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme.

Hundreds of thousands of young immigrants have gained work visas and temporary protection from deportation under the 2012 programme.

Mr Trump offered no details in the Time interview but talked much more sympathetically than he had during the campaign.

He said: "We're going to work something out that's going to make people happy and proud."

As for Mr Romney, Mr Trump denied he was stringing him along to make him pay for saying the former reality show star was unfit to serve.

"No, it's not about revenge. It's about what's good for the country, and I'm able to put this stuff behind us - and I hit him very hard also," Mr Trump said in the telephone interview on NBC.

Those close to the selection process have said that Mr Trump has begun moving away from both Mr Romney and another former front-runner for the post, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Senate Foreign Relations chairman Bob Corker and former CIA director David Petraeus had also been previously identified by transition aides as part of the final four.

In the wide-ranging NBC interview, Mr Trump said he picked a fight with Boeing this week over the cost of new presidential planes because "we're going to get the prices down, and if we don't get the prices down we're not going to order 'em".

He said Boeing would benefit from his administration's tax cuts and reductions in regulations.

The federal government has agreed that Boeing will build two new planes, which would go into service in around 2024.

That means Mr Trump might never fly on the aircraft, which carry US presidents around the globe.

Mr Trump also confirmed that he had sold stocks back in June, but neither he nor his aides have provided any evidence of the sale.

The night before, Mr Trump told supporters in Fayetteville, North Carolina, that he intends to be a president "for all Americans".



From Belfast Telegraph