President Donald Trump participates in a United Nations Security Council briefing on counterproliferation at the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at U.N. Headquarters. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Latest: Mattis says problems with China being sorted out

September 26, 2018 - 1:59 pm

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's appearance at the U.N. General Assembly (all times local):

2:55 p.m.

At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he thinks the current tensions with China will be overcome because both countries value the relationship.

He said he is not sure what to make of China's rejection of a Hong Kong port visit by a U.S. Navy ship. China also canceled plans for its navy chief to meet with his American counterpart at the Pentagon this week. Mattis said this and other problems with China are being "sorted out."

Mattis told reporters he does not believe the current tensions amount to a fundamental shift in the relationship.

His comments came after President Donald Trump accused the Chinese of "attempting to interfere" in the November elections. China denied this.

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2:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to open trade talks between their countries.

Trump says Japan had been unwilling in the past to enter into such talks, but now that Japan is willing, such a deal "will be something very exciting."

Trump commented as he and Abe met on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly session in New York.

The president also congratulated Abe on his "smashing election win." Abe was re-elected in a landslide last week as head of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, clearing the way for up to three more years as Japan's leader.

Trump and Abe also met privately over dinner Sunday at Trump Tower after the president arrived in New York.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman declined comment.

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2:15 p.m.

The Trump administration says China is stepping up covert and overt activities to stifle free speech, punish those who support the president's tough trade stance against China and interfere in the U.S. political system.

A senior administration official briefed reporters Wednesday after President Donald Trump said there was "plenty of evidence" that China is interfering in U.S. midterm elections.

The official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, says Vice President Mike Pence is expected to deliver a speech on the subject next week in Washington.

The official says China is hurting farmers and workers in states and districts that voted for Trump. The official says China stifles free speech on U.S. campuses, and punishes or rewards businesses, think tanks, movie studios and political candidates for criticizing or supporting Chinese politics.

—Deb Riechmann

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12:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says there is "plenty of evidence" that China is attempting to interfere in the U.S. midterm elections because it doesn't like U.S. trade policies targeting Beijing.

Trump made the claim at the U.N. Wednesday but didn't offer any specifics.

In response, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country does not and will not interfere in any country's domestic affairs. He said China refused to accept any "unwarranted accusation."

Later, in response to a reporter's question, Trump said there was "plenty of evidence" of China's attempts to interfere.

Still, Trump did not elaborate.

Cyber experts say they've seen no proof of Chinese meddling, and intelligence officials so far have not shared any evidence of Chinese interference in this year's elections.

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12:15 p.m.

China's foreign minister says his country doesn't interfere in any other nation's internal affairs. His comments came at a U.N. Security Council meeting after President Donald Trump accused the Chinese of "attempting to interfere" in the November elections in the U.S.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi also said he refused to accept any "unwarranted accusations" against China.

While chairing his first Security Council meeting, Trump made a point of saying in front of world leaders that "regrettably" his government found that China was trying to interfere. Trump says it's because he's the "first president ever" to challenge China on trade.

Wang looked on, stone-faced, as Trump made his statement.

China's longstanding policy is noninterference in other nations' internal affairs — and it is quick to cite that policy when any other nation criticizes it over anything from politics to human rights.

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11:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump is following a detailed script as he convenes his first meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

The famously free-wheeling leader is referring to notes that are guiding him through the body's parliamentary procedures, including which leaders to recognize and when to use the gavel afforded to the council's president. The U.S. holds the presidency for Wednesday's session.

Wearing an earpiece, Trump is alternating between listening to simultaneous translation as other leaders and ministers spoke and scanning the room or his prepared notes.

Bolivian leader Evo Morales launched a blistering critique of U.S. policy toward Iran as well as Trump's immigration policies that resulted in the separation of migrant children from their parents. Trump sat stone-faced during the remarks, looking straight ahead. He thanked Morales for his remarks, before recognizing the next leader

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10:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump says China has been meddling in the November election in the United States.

He's offering few details, but says at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council: "Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election."

U.S. intelligence officials have said previously that other nations could opt to try and copy Russia's playbook of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But Trump's comments Wednesday seem to confirm that China is actively interfering now.

Trump says Beijing doesn't want him or the Republicans "to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade."

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10:40 a.m.

For the first time, President Donald Trump is calling to order a meeting of the U.N. Security Council for a meeting on countering nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Trump, seated at the center of an arc-shaped table, immediately uttered tough words against Iran, saying that a government with Iran's track record "must never be allowed to obtain" a nuclear weapon.

At the same time, he thanked Iran, Russia and Syria for slowing their attack on Idlib province in Syria. Last week, Russia and Turkey reached a deal to avert an offensive against Idlib, the last major rebel-held stronghold in Syria.

He also said China was interfering in the U.S. midterm elections, but offered no details about the claim except to say that Beijing opposes his trade policy.

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9:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump is endorsing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He says that while he's with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "100 percent," Israel will have to do something that is good for the other side.

While meeting with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday, Trump said "deals have to be good for both parties," but that he thinks the Palestinians "actually want to do something."

Last week, eight European Union nations urged Israel to reconsider its planned demolition of a Palestinian community on the West Bank and said they will not give up on a negotiated two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a new Palestinian state.

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9:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump says all U.S. options are on the table to help end the political, economic and humanitarian chaos in Venezuela — even the "strong ones."

As he arrived Wednesday for a third day at the United Nations, reporters pummeled Trump with questions about whether the U.S. would ever intervene in the South American country. Venezuela's inflation and homicide rates are among the highest in the world and more than 2 million people have fled the violence and conflict in recent years.

The Trump administration on Tuesday slapped financial sanctions on four members of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's inner circle, including his wife and the nation's vice president, on allegations of corruption.

Asked if he would meet with Maduro, Trump said he would meet with anybody if it would help ease the suffering in Venezuela, which he described as a "disgrace."

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12:20 a.m.

More meetings with world leaders are on tap for President Donald Trump at the United Nations.

His schedule for includes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later in the day the leaders of Japan and Britain. Trump is also set to chair a U.N. Security Council briefing on counterproliferation.

Trump's address to the General Assembly on Tuesday criticized what he called the "ideology of globalism" while heaping praise on his own administration's achievements. The self-congratulations drew headshakes and even mocking laughter.

Since taking office, Trump has removed the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, promoted protectionist tariffs and questioned the value of NATO.

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