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Trump trumpets US$50b investment ahead of victory rally
[NEW YORK] Donald Trump announced on Tuesday a US$50 billion Japanese telecoms investment designed to create 50,000 US jobs, claiming another high-stakes personal win for the American economy before kicking off the second leg of a victory tour.
The US president-elect provided no details on the jobs or investment, which he trumpeted following a meeting with Japanese self-made billionaire Masayoshi Son at his headquarters in New York.
The real estate tycoon whose election stunned the world first tweeted the announcement, then strode into the lobby of Trump Tower to brief reporters in person.
"This is Masa of SoftBank from Japan and he's just agreed to invest US$50 billion in the United States and 50,000 jobs," the president-elect told reporters, standing with his arm around a grinning Son.
"He's one of the great men of industry, so I just want to thank you very much," added Mr Trump before turning to shake the Japanese magnate's hand.
"I just came to celebrate his new job," said Mr Son, repeating his commitment and saying that SoftBank would be investing in startup companies in America.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr Son said the money will be coming from a US$100 billion investment fund that he is setting up with Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and other potential partners.
Mr Trump, who defeated Hillary Clinton by promising to create jobs and campaigning as a political outsider who could shake up the system, claimed the Japanese investment as a personal coup.
"Masa said he would never do this had we (Trump) not won the election!" the maverick Republican wrote on Twitter.
It marked the second time in a week Mr Trump has claimed to have acted personally to save or create American jobs - allowing himself to make good on a key campaign promise - after a deal to keep hundreds of manufacturing jobs in Indiana.
That agreement with air-conditioning plant Carrier was announced ahead of his inaugural victory rally in Ohio, and has raised his stock among Republican and Democrat voters alike, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found Tuesday.
Mr Trump sought to bolster his populist credentials further by threatening to cancel a ballooning contract for two new Air Force One jets: one of the most glittering assets of the US presidency which now need updating.
He claimed the contract had escalated to more than US$4 billion, as his team said he was committed to keeping government spending down and saving taxpayers' money.
Converting twin 747-8 jumbo jets into state-of-the-art command centers by 2024 was estimated to cost US$3 billion when Boeing won the contract in January 2015.
The legendary light blue and white liveried jets - "United States of America" emblazoned on the fuselage and an American flag on the tail - are a powerful and unique symbol of US might, the envy of foreign leaders across the world.
"I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money," Mr Trump told reporters in the first of his two rare appearances in the lobby of his Trump Tower on Tuesday.
He called the US$4 billion estimate "ridiculous."
Boeing did not directly address Mr Trump's comments or the estimated cost, but issued a statement saying that it looked forward to delivering "the best planes for the president at the best value for the American taxpayer."
Despite his continued post-election fondness for tweetstorms that have lashed China, US companies moving jobs overseas and the US media, the 70-year-old is ahead of his predecessors in terms of naming his cabinet.
His team said that he was filling out his cabinet at the fastest rate "since at least 1968" although the most high-profile position, secretary of state, remains unfilled as Mr Trump searches for someone who can articulate his world view on the international stage and with whom he can connect personally.
The incoming Republican president will continue his unorthodox victory tour on Tuesday by travelling to Fayetteville, North Carolina, saying "thank you" to another of the swing states that swept him into office.
There, in a 10,000-seat sports arena, he is scheduled to share the stage with James Mattis, the decorated four-star Marine general nicknamed Mad Dog whom he will formally name as defence secretary.
Mr Trump first announced that Mr Mattis was his pick while soaking up adulation at his inaugural post-election rally in Cincinnati last Thursday, driving the crowd wild in another drastic break with tradition.
If nothing else, Mr Trump has thrilled his supporters.
"I think he's doing a very good job," said 60-year-old business owner Jimmy Tyndall in Lillington, North Carolina.
"Since he won the election, we've seen a different side, a more focused, more deliberate, certainly making steps for the United States."