Exclusive: Trump says Clinton policy on
Syria would lead to World War Three
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[October 26, 2016]
By Steve Holland
DORAL, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. Republican
presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Democrat Hillary
Clinton's plan for Syria would "lead to World War Three," because of the
potential for conflict with military forces from nuclear-armed Russia.
In an interview focused largely on foreign policy, Trump said defeating
Islamic State is a higher priority than persuading Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad to step down, playing down a long-held goal of U.S.
Trump questioned how Clinton would negotiate with Russian President
Vladimir Putin after demonizing him; blamed President Barack Obama for a
downturn in U.S. relations with the Philippines under its new president,
Rodrigo Duterte; bemoaned a lack of Republican unity behind his
candidacy, and said he would easily win the election if the party
leaders would support him.
“If we had party unity, we couldn’t lose this election to Hillary
Clinton,” he said.
On Syria's civil war, Trump said Clinton could drag the United States
into a world war with a more aggressive posture toward resolving the
Clinton has called for the establishment of a no-fly zone and “safe
zones” on the ground to protect non-combatants. Some analysts fear that
protecting those zones could bring the United States into direct
conflict with Russian fighter jets.
"What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on
Syria," said Trump as he dined on fried eggs and sausage at his Trump
National Doral golf resort. "You’re going to end up in World War Three
over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton.
"You’re not fighting Syria any more, you’re fighting Syria, Russia and
Iran, all right? Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the
nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk," he said.
Clinton's campaign dismissed the criticism, noting that both Republican
and Democratic national security experts have denounced Trump as unfit
to be commander-in-chief.
"Once again, he is parroting Putin's talking points and playing to
Americans' fears, all while refusing to lay out any plans of his own for
defeating ISIS or alleviating humanitarian suffering in Syria," Clinton
spokesman Jesse Lehrich said in a statement.
Trump said Assad is much stronger now than he was three years ago and
said getting Assad to leave power was less important than defeating
"Assad is secondary, to me, to ISIS," he said.
[to top of second column]
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump sits for an
interview at Trump National Doral golf club in Miami, Florida, U.S.
October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
OBAMA FOCUSED 'ON HIS GOLF GAME'
On Russia, Trump again knocked Clinton's handling of U.S.-Russian
relations while secretary of state and said her harsh criticism of
Putin raised questions about "how she is going to go back and
negotiate with this man who she has made to be so evil," if she wins
On the deterioration of ties with the Philippines, Trump aimed his
criticism at Obama, saying the president "wants to focus on his golf
game" rather than engage with world leaders.
Since assuming office, Duterte has expressed open hostility toward
the United States, rejecting criticism of his violent anti-drug
clampdown, using an expletive to describe Obama and telling the
United States not to treat his country "like a dog with a leash."
The Obama administration has expressed optimism that the two
countries can remain firm allies.
Trump said Duterte's latest comments showed "a lack of respect for
The interview comes two weeks before the Nov. 8 election, with Trump
trailing badly in the polls. He repeated his assertion that the
"media is rigging the polls" and said his supporters were upset with
Republican Party leadership.
"The people are very angry with the leadership of this party,
because this is an election that we will win 100 percent if we had
support from the top. I think we’re going to win it anyway."
He said if he wins he would not consider putting Democrats in his
cabinet but would work with them on legislation.
(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker, Emily Stephenson, Alana Wise
and Ginger Gibson in Washington and Emily Flitter in New York,
editing by Paul Thomasch and Ross Colvin)
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