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Trump meets former rival Romney, a possible contender as top diplomat

Sunday, November 20, 2016 - 11:16

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US President-elect Donald Trump and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney set aside their long-simmering rivalry on Saturday and had talks likely to feed speculation that Romney could be a candidate to be Trump's secretary of state.

[NEW YORK] US President-elect Donald Trump and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney set aside their long-simmering rivalry on Saturday and had talks likely to feed speculation that Romney could be a candidate to be Trump's secretary of state.

Mr Trump and Mr Romney emerged from their meeting after an hour and 20 minutes. Mr Trump told reporters their talks "went great"and Mr Romney said he and Mr Trump "had a far-reaching conversation with regards to the various theaters in the world." "We discussed those areas, and exchanged our views on those topics - a very thorough and in-depth discussion in the time we had. And I appreciate the chance to speak with the president-elect and I look forward to the coming administration and the things that it's going to be doing," Mr Romney said.

Mr Romney was first in a long list of people Mr Trump was meeting on Saturday and Sunday as he seeks to fill out his Cabinet and gather advice ahead of his Jan 20 move to the White House.

The president-elect also met with retired Marine General James Mattis, considered a contender for defense secretary, as well as Michelle Rhee, former Washington, DC public schools chancellor and a possible education secretary. He also met with Betsy DeVos, a former head of the Michigan Republican Party who is also candidate for education secretary.

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Mr Romney, a leader of the establishment Republican "never Trump" movement, had opposed Mr Trump's march to the Republican presidential nomination. In a speech in March, he said Mr Trump would be dangerous as president, with policies that could touch off a recession.

He had also said, "I'm afraid that when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart." Mr Trump had denounced Mr Romney as a "choke artist" for losing the 2012 election to President Barack Obama.

But with Mr Trump now president-in-waiting, Mr Romney's appearance at Trump National Bedminster on an unseasonably warm November day was symbolic of hard-won party unity. "Mr President-elect, how are you sir?" Mr Romney said on arrival.

Whether Mr Romney will join the Trump administration is unclear. Mr Romney, a more mainstream Republican, would serve alongside more hawkish appointees named on Friday including his pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, national security adviser, Michael Flynn and CIA director, Mike Pompeo.

Mr Trump has been considering former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a close adviser, for secretary of state, as well as former US ambassador to the United States John Bolton and US Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.

Transition officials said Mr Trump's meeting with Mr Romney was supposed to be a general discussion about the incoming administration.

A Romney confidant said of Mr Romney's secretary of state prospects: "Could it happen? I suppose. But it's unlikely." Instead, the source said the meeting gives "the good housekeeping seal of approval to Republicans who don't know if they should help Mr Trump or not."

REUTERS

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