From Pak to Taiwan, Trump's phone calls upsetting diplomacy: NYT

New York, United StatesUpdated: Dec 03, 2016, 08:15 AM IST

According to the Pakistani readout of their conversation, Trump told Sharif he is 'ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems'. Photograph:(Reuters)

US President-elect Donald Trump's call to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could "upset the delicate balance" of India-Pakistan ties, the New York Times said as it sounded a critical tone of him breaking decades of diplomatic practice in freewheeling calls with foreign leaders.

"President-elect Donald J Trump has broken with decades of diplomatic practice in freewheeling calls with foreign leaders," the New York Times said as the next leader of the US upset the status quo in his conversations with world leaders.

In an unprecedented break from diplomatic practice and a move that could irk China, Trump spoke with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, becoming the first president or president-elect to speak with a Taiwanese leader since at least 1979, when Washington had severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan as part of its recognition of China.

On November 30, Trump spoke with Sharif, who according to a Pakistani government readout of their call, invited Trump to visit the south Asian country. The readout said Trump had called Pakistan a "fantastic" country full of "fantastic" people that he "would love" to visit as president. He had also called Sharif as "terrific" and Pakistanis "are one of the most intelligent people", according to the Pakistani readout which added that Trump said he is "ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems".

"Should Trump follow through, he risks alienating India, which sees Pakistan as a major antagonist, and appearing to reward Pakistan's behaviour; should he renege, he risks upsetting Pakistani leaders who are sensitive about perceived American intransigence. Either way, the call could upset the delicate balance of India-Pakistan ties, which the US has struggled to manage amid a history of wars and recent skirmishes," the New York Times said.

On Trump's conversation with Ing-wen, NYT said the call "risks infuriating China", which considers Taiwan a breakaway province governed by Chinese rebels.

"By honouring the Taiwanese president with a formal call, Trump's transition team implicitly suggests that it considers Taiwan an independent state," it said, noting that the US has declined to recognise Taiwan since 1979, when it shifted recognition to the government in Beijing. Taiwan itself has yet to declare formal independence.

Trump had tweeted, "The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency".

In a December 2 conversation with Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines, Trump invited him to visit Washington. 

NYT said Duterte has been accused of gross human rights abuses, had used abusive language against President Barack Obama and declared his country's "separation" from the US during a recent trip to Beijing.

"Honoring Duterte with a presidential invitation implies US approval of his behavior, which Obama's administration had been working to curb," NYT said.

Trump also praised Kazakhstan's leader Nursultan Nazarbayev for "fantastic success", in tones that suggest approval for Nazarbayev's strongman rule.

According to the Kazakh government's readout of the call, Trump "stressed that under the leadership of Nursultan Nazarbayev, our country over the years of independence had achieved fantastic success that can be called a miracle".

The NYT further said that after brushing off the United Kingdom, Trump offered a casual invitation to British Prime Minister Theresa May.

"If you travel to the US you should let me know," he told her, far short of a formal invitation. Trump also met with Nigel Farage, former leader of the fringe UK Independence Party a "slap to May", NYT said.

Trump later said that Farage should become the British ambassador to the US, though presidents typically avoid telling foreign counterparts how to staff their governments, NYT added.

In another break from diplomatic protocol, Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump had joined his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

NYT said why such a move matters is that rather than inviting state department officials to staff his meeting with Abe, Trump invited his daughter.

"The meeting alarmed diplomats, who worried that Trump lacked preparation after a long record of criticizing Japan. It also blurred the line between Trump's businesses, which (his daughter) helps run, and the US Government, with which she has no role," it said.