By Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday denounced reports of disorganization in the team overseeing his transition to the White House in January, singling out the New York Times for saying world leaders have had trouble getting in touch with him. Trump took to Twitter to list several world leaders he had spoken with since his upset victory in the Nov. 8 presidential election. The Republican real estate magnate said he had received and taken "calls from many foreign leaders despite what the failing @nytimes said. Russia, U.K., China, Saudi Arabia, Japan." "Australia, New Zealand, and more. I am always available to them. @nytimes is just upset that they looked like fools in their coverage of me," Trump continued.The Times, a frequent target of Trump's Twitter blasts, said on Tuesday that U.S. allies were "scrambling to figure out how and when to contact Mr. Trump" and blindly dialling in to Trump Tower in New York to try to reach him.The newspaper said Trump, who has never held public office, was working without official State Department briefing materials in his dealings with foreign leaders. "The failing @nytimes story is so totally wrong on transition," he tweeted, without specifying what it was in the article that was incorrect. "It is going so smoothly. Also, I have spoken to many foreign leaders." Trump has mostly stuck to normal practise for a U.S. president-elect with the order in which he has spoken to foreign leaders since his surprise election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.But some of his contacts have stretched the limits of the usual protocol, leaving some U.S. allies rattled about Trump’s foreign policy instincts and priorities.
INCOMING PHONE CALLS
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, an army general who seized power three years ago, appears to have been the first leader to speak to Trump after the election, ahead of closer allies like the leaders of Britain and Germany.Sisi's office called Trump last Wednesday and the incoming U.S. president told him it was "the first international call he had received to congratulate him on winning the election."
Trump also has talked on the phone in recent days to the leaders of Britain, Germany, Turkey and other allies. But a phone call on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which the two men agreed to aim for "constructive cooperation," raised eyebrows among Democrats and traditionalist Republicans worried about a resurgent Moscow.Trump also met Britain's anti-EU Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage at Trump Tower last weekend, way ahead of any meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May.Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday will be the first foreign leader Trump meets with as president-elect. They will hold talks in New York and an adviser to Trump said the Republican would reaffirm the U.S-Japan alliance, despite campaign rhetoric that raised questions about it.
In a tweet on Tuesday night Trump had said he was "the only one who knows who the finalists are" for appointed positions in his administration, which takes over on Jan. 20.When Trump's son, Eric, entered Trump Tower in New York on Wednesday morning he was asked by reporters if any positions would be announced on Wednesday and responded, "Likely."Despite fevered speculation, Trump has yet to say who will fill Cabinet positions such as secretary of state, treasury secretary or defence secretary. His team said this is not unusual and is in line with the timing of the transition of Barack Obama to the White House after he won the presidency in 2008.On the ground floor of the State Department, more than a dozen empty conference rooms await Trump's transition team. State Department officials said Trump's team had not yet contacted the department's counsellor, Kristie Kenney, who is overseeing the transition there.As of Wednesday morning, the Trump team also had not contacted the Pentagon about the transition, officials said.Trump denied he was trying to get security clearance for his children and son-in-law, which would allow them access to classified government information. (Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Idrees Ali and Lesley Wroughton in Washington and Emily Stephenson in New York; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Bill Trott)
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