‘He is something’: Trump promises peace push after ‘fantastic’ pope talks

Meeting for the first time, the president and the pontiff sidestepped deep differences over issues ranging from the environment to the plight of migrants and the poor.


“Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis,” a star-struck Trump wrote on Twitter before leaving Rome for Brussels and the next leg of his first overseas trip as US president.

“I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world,” the billionaire former reality TV star said.

In Brussels, a city he once dubbed a “hellhole”, Trump however faced thousands of protesters ahead of his first summits on Thursday with wary leaders of NATO and the European Union.

Trump sparked fears of an end to the transatlantic alliance when he dismissed NATO as “obsolete” while on the campaign trail and mortified the EU by backing Brexit.

Trump said that the most important issue during his time in Belgium was terrorism after the “horrible situation” in Manchester, England, where a suicide bomber killed 22 people in an attack claimed by the Islamic State.

“We are fighting very hard, doing very well under our generals. Making tremendous progress,” Trump told Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

“But when you see something like what happened a few days ago you realize how important it is to win this fight. And we will win this fight.”

Trump and Melania visit Vatican’s Sistine Chapel

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‘Fantastic meeting’

Trump had left Rome declaring his determination for peace following his keenly anticipated encounter with Pope Francis, the 80-year-old former Jesuit priest who has made championing the poor and the third world major themes of his papacy.

In their world view and tastes, the Argentine pontiff who eschews the use of the palaces at his disposal and the luxury hotel tycoon appear worlds apart.

But despite the pope looking initially grim-faced, both men ended up mostly all smiles, relaxed and even jovial.

Accompanied by his wife Melania and daughter Ivanka, Trump met Francis in the private library of the Apostolic Palace, the lavish papal residence that the current pope eschews in favour of more modest lodgings.

“He is something,” Trump later said of his host. “We had a fantastic meeting.”


There was even a light-hearted moment when Francis made an apparent allusion to Trump’s imposing physical size.

“What do you feed him on? Potica?” Francis asked Melania, in a reference to a calorie-laden cake that comes from her native Slovenia and is pronounced “potteezza”. Reporters initially thought he said “pizza”.

Trump also told the pope he was committing more than $300 million (270 million euros) to help prevent or tackle famine in Yemen and several countries in Africa.

The Vatican described the discussions as “cordial” and emphasised the two men’s joint opposition to abortion and shared concern for persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

The pope presented Trump with a medallion engraved with an olive tree, the international symbol of peace.

Francis also gave Trump copies of the three major texts he has published as pope, including one on the environment which urges the industrialised world to curb carbon emissions or risk catastrophic consequences for the planet.

Trump, who has threatened to ignore the Paris accords on emissions and described global warming as a hoax, vowed to read them.

First Lady Melania Trump arrives at the San Damaso courtyard for a private audience with Pope Francis, at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 24, 2017.AP

‘An instrument of peace’

Trump told his host as he left, “Thank you. Thank you. I won’t forget what you said.”

“I give it to you so you can be an instrument of peace,” the pope said in Spanish. “We can use peace,” Trump replied.

Trump’s gifts included a collection of first editions by Martin Luther King and a bronze sculpture.

A Vatican statement on the meeting highlighted “the joint commitment in favour of life, and freedom of worship and conscience.”

Afterwards, the US first couple were given a private tour of the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.

In Brussels, Trump met Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde and held talks with Michel, while around 6,000 people rallied against his policies in the centre of the city.

On Thursday, he first meets EU President Donald Tusk and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, having previously backed Britain’s shock Brexit vote and saying the EU was a doomed would-be superstate.

He will then hold his first summit with NATO leaders, who are holding out for a public show of Trump’s commitment in return for joining the US-led coalition against Islamic State in the wake of the Manchester attacks.

Trump’s Vatican visit was the third leg of his overseas trip, after stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The high-profile trip has diverted attention from Trump’s domestic pressures over alleged campaign collusion with Russia.



Morgan ton leads England to opening win over South Africa

With the Champions Trophy starting next week, tournament hosts England look in fine shape with bat and ball after a highly disciplined performance.


“It was very pleasing, it has been a pretty good day at the office for us,” said Morgan.

“I thought the partnerships we built, we gave ourselves the best opportunity to get a par score or more,” added Morgan, whose century was his 11th in ODIs.

England’s spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali, who was given the man of the match award, struck a crucial unbeaten 77, including five sixes, in a match-winning 117 run partnership with Morgan.

Ali also played a key role with the ball, picking up the wicket of South African skipper AB de Villiers just as the strokemaker was beginning to look dangerous on 45.

The only concern for England was a knee injury for all-rounder Ben Stokes which hampered his ability with the ball.


The Yorkshire venue of Headingley welcomed the world’s visiting number one ranked ODI team with bright sunshine before Morgan’s 107 from 93 balls put the spine in England’s total.

Ali’s contribution was essential after the two strong-hitting middle order batsmen – Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler – had been dismissed for 25 and seven respectively.

Alex Hales (61) and local favourite Joe Root (37) had laid the foundations with a 98-run second wicket partnership after opener Jason Roy was caught behind for one by Quinton de Kock, attempting to drive Wayne Parnell.

South Africa made an excellent start in response, with Hashim Amla scoring 73 before he was trapped lbw by Mark Wood, departing at 145 for two.

Faf du Plessis, who had batted beautifully for his 67 in a 112 run partnership with Amla, quickly followed after edging Liam Plunkett with keeper Jos Buttler safely pocketing.

But, with England bowling a consistent and tight line and length, South Africa’s middle order was unable to respond, De Villiers running out of partners before going on the attack and being caught by Plunkett at deep mid-wicket off Ali.

England seamer Chris Woakes did the bulk of the damage picking up 4-38.

The three-match series continues at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Saturday and finishes at Lord’s on Monday.

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris)

‘We are in constant fear’: Manus Island detainees appeal to New Zealand PM for asylum

Asylum seekers on Manus Island have penned a letter to New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Bill English, urging him to resettle them.


New Zealand has previously offered to take in refugees from the Australian-run immigration detention centres, and the letter asks Mr English to again broach the issue with Australia.

“We humbly request that you revisit your offer to take asylum seekers from offshore camps and take us to New Zealand. We are confident that if you properly assess our claims for asylum you will find that we are genuine refugees,” the letter reads.

“We promise to commit ourselves to helping build New Zealand and will work towards making it one of the best countries in the world. We sincerely request that you allow us to come to New Zealand.”

In the letter, the asylum seekers say they don’t feel safe in Papua New Guinea are in “constant fear” of their lives.

“We are routinely attacked and robbed when we go into Lorengau town. We are not welcome in this country and have no place in it.”


They also mention the death of Reza Barati at the Manus Island detention centre in February 2014 – which left them “traumatised”, as well as this year’s Good Friday incident where gun shots were fired into the centre.

“Luckily none of us was killed but many people were nearly hit by bullets coming through the walls into their rooms … We are not protected by the Australian government who brought us here or the PNG government who have been given responsibility for our welfare.

“After the attack in 2014 many of us lost confidence in the refugee assessment process and did not continue with it.”

In April 2016, PNG’s Supreme Court ruled the detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island as illegal, with asylum seekers notified they will be asked to leave the centre in the coming months.

“On 15 May 2017 we were told that the Manus Island camp is to close and that those without refugee status would be returned to their home countries, abandoned in PNG or moved ‘to a third country where you have a right to reside’.”

While United States officials have been on Manus Island assessing refugees as part of a deal brokered between Australia and the US.


Tiger has no plans to retire, ‘no hurry’ to return either

“I want to say unequivocally, I want to play professional golf again,” Woods, commenting for the first time since his surgery, said on his website (tigerwoods.



“Presently, I’m not looking ahead. I can’t twist for another two and a half to three months. Right now, my sole focus is rehab and doing what the doctors tell me. I am concentrating on short-term goals.”

Woods, second on the all-time list with 14 major titles, has played sparingly since returning to golf in December after a 16-month layoff following back surgery.

He missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in January and withdrew from a European Tour event in Dubai after a first-round 77.

Woods only decided on surgery because he could no longer live with the pain, adding that even lying down hurt and that he tried every possible non-surgical route but nothing worked.


He said the fusion surgery provided instant nerve relief.

“I haven’t felt this good in years,” said Woods, a 79-times winner on the PGA Tour.

“My surgeon and physiotherapist say the operation was successful. It’s just a matter of not screwing up and letting it fuse.

“I’m walking and doing my exercises, and taking my kids to and from school. All I can do is take it day-by-day. There’s no hurry.”

Woods also said he did everything he could to play in last month’s U.S. Masters, where he has not competed since 2015, but that the pain was too great.

“The pain was post-impact when I swung the club. I figured, ‘Can I handle it?’ This time the answer was, ‘Probably not.’ That shows the effect nerve pain can have,” said Woods, a four-time Masters champion.

“Obviously, it was a huge disappointment not to play. I hate to miss any major, especially the Masters, but the reality is I just couldn’t play.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Chinese outrage after international student praises US democracy

What began as a graduation speech at the University of Maryland has turned into an international social media storm.


Graduating student Yang Shuping gave a commencement speech in which she praised America’s support of critical thinking and freedom of expression.

Ms Shuping recalled the first day she stepped off a plane in America and was surprised by how clean the air was, something she said she was not used to in her home city of Kunming in China’s south.

In her speech she used fresh air as a metaphor for the way she felt about America’s focus on personal liberty and freedom, contrasting her experience in the US to the oppression she felt growing up in China’s stifling political climate.

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“I used to believe that one individual’s participation could not make a difference,” Ms Shuping said.

“I have the opportunity to speak freely here, my voice matters, your voice matters – our voices matter.”

“Democracy and free speech should not be taken for granted, democracy and freedom are the fresh air that is worth fighting for.”

“Together we can push our society to be more just, open and peaceful.”

The speech drew applause and cheers from the packed university hall, but also triggered a swift backlash from mainland China and other Chinese students at the university. 

Social media users criticised Ms Shuping’s assessment of Chinese air quality, calling her a “liar” and “devious”.

I can’t understand Yang Shuping’s words about the air of KunMing.Kun Ming is one of the cleanest cities in china. pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/5UDDZSDQj0

— 王夕兮 (@bu1fIX41Jt6AlyJ) May 22, 2017

Her home town of Kunming, which is known as one of China’s least polluted cities, also posted on Weibo upholding their “fresh and sweet” air.

The University of Maryland said in a statement that they “proudly support” Ms Shuping’s speech.

“Listening to and respectfully engaging with those whom we disagree are essential skills, both within university walls and beyond,” the institution said.

But Ms Shuping herself has publicly apologised on social media, saying she didn’t aim to insult her country and was “sincerely sorry for the speech” and hoped to be “forgiven”.Related:


This incident comes after concerns in Australia over Chinese influence in higher education institutions.

Just this month, Monash University came under fire when it suspended a lecturer after a Chinese student complained that a quiz implied China’s officials only told the truth while drunk. 

After seeing the post on Wechat the Chinese consulate became involved, encouraging Monash to investigate.

Earlier this year, Professor Chongyi Feng from the University of Technology Sydney, an Australian permanent travelling on a Chinese passport, was blocked from leaving China following his research on human rights issues.

Professor Feng was a known critic of the Chinese Communist Party, but was released several days later with little explanation.

The incidents have raised questions about how educational institutions deal with Chinese political sensitivities while relying on the country’s students for international student fees. 

More than a quarter of Australia’s 480,000 international students are Chinese.