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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Saturday, January 20, 2018

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Obama’s last presser as president is guardedly optimistic as he reassures worried Americans

His Last Day

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - At his final news conference as president on Wednesday, Barack Obama attempted to reassure worried Americans. “I believe in this country. I believe in the American people. I believe that people are more good than bad,” he stated.> BNN

The outgoing president answered several questions on a range of issues, including his recent decision to commute the sentence of ex-army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. 

Obama responded: "In light of all the circumstances, commuting her sentence was entirely appropriate."

The transgender, who earlier went by the name Bradley Manning, has already endured a "tough" time in prison, he noted, so shortening the prison term meant that "justice was served." 

He dismissed Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange's Twitter pledge to face charges in the U.S. in return for Manning's release, “I don't pay much attention to Mr. Assange's tweets, so that wasn't a consideration."

The president also referred to the difference between his public persona and how he appears in private.

“I curse more than I do in public, and sometimes I get mad and frustrated, like everybody else does," he said. "But at my core, I think we’re going to be okay [as a country]. We just have to fight for it, we have to work for it, and not take it for granted, and I know that you will help us do that.”

He said his daughters understand that “the only thing that is the end of the world is the end of the world," adding this has been the advice for his daughters following Trump's win - “You get knocked down, you get up, brush yourself off and get back to work.”

Obama called the transition with the Trump team "cordial", saying he had advised Trump to get a team of well-qualified advisers around him, because "this is a job you can't do alone."

When asked by a reporter if he expected the country to see another black president, Obama remarked with a smile, "If in fact we continue to keep opportunity open to everybody, then, yeah, we're going to have a woman president. We're going to have a Latino president. And we'll have a Jewish president, a Hindu president. You know, who knows who we're going to have. I suspect we'll have a whole bunch of mixed up presidents at some point that nobody really knows what to call them."

Obama also referred to the United States' relations with Russia. "I think it's in America's interest and the world's interest that we have a constructive relationship with Russia. That's been my approach throughout my presidency," he remarked, adding that Putin's return to power saw an "escalating anti-American rhetoric" which resulted in a return to the "adversarial spirit" of the Cold War.

Following Trump's proposal recently that sanctions against Russia would be lifted if the country reduced its nuclear arms, Obama noted that the sanctions were imposed "because the independence and sovereignty of a country, Ukraine, had been encroached upon by force, by Russia."

The outgoing president also made a veiled dig at the Trump administration, whose staff suggested moving the press corps out of the White House to the Old Executive Office Building next door.

Addressing journalists he said, "You're not supposed to be sycophants, you're supposed to be skeptical. And having you in this building has made this work place better. It keeps us honest, makes us work harder." 

Referring to the Israel-Palestine conflict, he said he wanted to "preserve the possibility of the two-state solution because we do not see an alternative to it."

Hinting that although he would be exiting the office of president, he would, however, not be disappearing from the world stage and would speak out if Trump violates America’s “core values.”

Obama said if he saw “systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion”, “explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote”, “institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press” or “efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and are for all practical purposes American kids and send them somewhere else”, he would speak out.

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