Trump: I'm Not 'Obligated' to Defend Obama Against Accusations

Trump: I'm Not 'Obligated' to Defend Obama Against Accusations

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who this week did not correct a supporter who had questioned President Barack Obama's religious faith and nationality, said Saturday that he was not obligated to defend the president.

Campaigning Thursday in New Hampshire, Trump allowed a supporter who called Obama a non-American Muslim to go unchallenged. Trump, chuckling, interrupted the accuser, saying: "We need this question. This is the first question."

Saturday, the Republican front-runner took to Twitter to defend himself after coming under widespread criticism for his silence:

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don't think so!

He also said he doubted that Obama would come to his "rescue ... if  someone made a nasty or controversial statement about me."

Trump, a billionaire real estate tycoon, fueled the so-called "birther" movement earlier this decade by repeatedly demanding that Obama prove he was not born in Kenya, as some of the president's fringe detractors have incorrectly asserted.

Several other Republican candidates, including Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, declined to comment Friday on Trump's exchange with his supporter.  

The White House has described the candidates' silence as evidence of a "cynical strategy" backed by many Republicans.

However, another Republican candidate, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, in a separate campaign stop, described Obama as "an American and a Christian" and said he would not lend credence false conspiracy theories about the president.


Mediator: Civilian Rule to Return in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso will reinstate an interim government led by President Michel Kafando, Benin's leader said Saturday, in what would be a victory for the street over army coup leaders.

Seeking to end violent clashes between soldiers and protesters and salvage an October presidential election, African mediators held talks with the junta head, General Gilbert Diendere.

"We may hope again," Benin's leader, Thomas Boni Yayi, told reporters after a third round of talks with Diendere. "We are going to relaunch the transition that was underway — a transition led by civilians, with Michel Kafando," he added, saying that more details of the "good news" would be provided Sunday.

Senegal's President Macky Sall, who is also mediating in the crisis as head of the Economic Community of West African States, did not comment after the talks. His office earlier confirmed he was seeking to broker Kafando's return to power.

It was not clear whether the alleged deal included amnesty for Diendere, a shadowy general who served as a spy chief under ousted President Blaise Compaore. Nor was it clear whether the election schedule could be restored.

Diendere did not deny that an initial agreement had been reached. "I always said that I will not cling to power. It's now a question of terms," he told reporters after the meeting.

Cabinet session stormed

Soldiers from the presidential guard stormed into a cabinet meeting Wednesday and abducted Kafando and ministers, disrupting a transition period due to end with elections on October 11.

Calling themselves the National Democratic Council (CND), the coup leaders oppose the interim government's plans to dissolve the presidential guard, and they claim the country faced instability after some candidates were barred from standing in the elections.

"We simply want a set of proposals that allow us to get to the elections in all peace and serenity while assuring that the results are uncontested and incontestable," Diedere told TV 5 MONDE earlier in the day.

Kafando has since been freed and is in his residence, where he met with mediators earlier in the day. He has not spoken publicly since the coup was announced Thursday.

The fate of Prime Minister Isaac Zida, a former member of the military body behind the coup, remained unknown.

With the release of most of the officials it had been holding, the CND also announced the reopening of all state borders, which had been locked down. When that news came, long lines of people formed, hoping to get through at one of the land border posts with Ivory Coast, and dozens of trucks and buses could be seen parked along the road leading to the border.

Protests continue

But these announcements did not stop the protests that had been continuing since the coup. Roadblocks made of branches and tires were set up at various points on the road from the border to Burkina's second-biggest city,  Bobo-Dioulasso.

In town, citizens protested in front of a military camp to try get the soldiers to join the movement. Protester Clarisse Koura came with a spatula, intending to hit coup leader Diendere in the head. She said protesters did not want him in power.

A few hundred people gathered at one of the main squares. The crowd could be heard singing "Our homeland or death," a motto from Burkina's revolutionary figure and former president, Thomas Sankara.

In the capital, Ouagadougou, hundreds of protesters burned tires and erected barricades in the streets Saturday. Young people wielding sticks and slingshots dragged railway fences into the streets of Ouagadougou to block soldiers.

Unlike on previous days, there was no sign of soldiers from the elite presidential guard in central Ouagadougou, although residents reported sporadic gunfire in the suburbs.

The streets were nearly deserted by nightfall in compliance with a curfew.

In all, at least 10 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in street clashes with soldiers since the coup. Most of the casualties were treated for gunshot wounds.


China Calls for Resumption of Korean Nuclear Talks
China is calling for all parties in the North Korean denuclearization talks to resume the long-stalled negotiations.

Speaking at an academic forum in Beijing, Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on all sides to take a "responsible attitude" and refrain from any actions that could worsen tensions both on the Korean peninsula and the whole of northeast Asia.

The forum was organized to mark the 10th anniversary of a joint agreement reached between Pyongyang and five world powers — China, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States — to remove all nuclear weapons from the peninsula. The five nations were negotiating a deal to provide energy assistance to the North, in exchange for the North's dismantling of its nuclear program.

But the negotiations collapsed in 2008 when North Korea refused to allow inspections to verify compliance and declared the deal was void. It has since conducted three nuclear tests, the last one in 2013, and recently said it has restarted operations at its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon.

The North has also hinted at plans to launch a long-range missile next month to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the country's ruling Workers' Party.

The U.S., South Korea, and Japan have warned the North against conducting the rocket launch, saying the move would be a violation of United Nations resolutions banning Pyongyang from conducting ballistic missile tests.


Kerry: Syrian President Must Step Down
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down, but that the timing of his departure has to be decided through negotiation.

Speaking in London after talks with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Kerry urged Russia and Iran to use their influence in Syria to persuade Assad to negotiate his eventual departure in order to end to the country's catastrophic civil war.

Kerry also stressed the link between the Syrian civil war and the vast migrant flow of Syrians into continental Europe. He called the four-year war the "root cause" of the migration crisis, while calling the mass migration the main "challenge to continental Europe."

"We need to get to the negotiation," Kerry said. "That's what we're looking for, and we hope Russia and Iran and any other countries with influence will help to bring about that. ... So we talked about a number of ideas ... for how to use this moment when Russia appears to be more committed to doing more" against Islamic State extremists battling for control of Syria.

"That's the objective," he said.

Moscow and the West have sharply disagreed on strategy and tactics for ending the civil war, which erupted in 2011. Western governments have insisted the crisis will not end until Assad cedes or is driven from power, while Moscow argues that the threat from extremists must be quelled before addressing Assad's future.

An estimated 250,000 Syrians have been killed as diplomacy stalled. Hundreds of thousands of others threatened by IS forces and government troops have fled, seeking the relative safety and prosperity of continental Europe.

Syrian government troops killed

Separately, a Syrian watchdog group said Islamist insurgents had killed 56 members of the Syrian government forces in the country's northwestern Idlib province. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that the government fighters were shot "execution-style" at the Abu Duhur military airport.

The monitoring group said the killings happened earlier this week, but it took several days to confirm the deaths.  

The air base had been one of the Syrian military's last remaining strongholds in the province when it was captured on September 9 by Islamist rebels, including the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front.

The Islamist coalition, the "Army of Conquest," took over the city of Idlib, which is the provincial capital, and several other areas earlier this year.


Trump: I'm Not 'Obligated' to Defend Obama Against Accusations Trump: I'm Not 'Obligated' to Defend Obama Against Accusations Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 4:20 PM Rating: 5

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