Appearing at White House, Trump holds first public event since COVID-19 diagnosis

Appearing at White House, Trump holds first public event since COVID-19 diagnosis
US President Donald Trump gestures as he stands on a White House balcony speaking to supporters gathered for a campaign rally that the White House is calling a “peaceful protest” in Washington, US, Oct. 10, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 13 October 2020

Appearing at White House, Trump holds first public event since COVID-19 diagnosis

Appearing at White House, Trump holds first public event since COVID-19 diagnosis
  • Standing alone and not wearing a mask, Trump spoke from the White House balcony
  • The White House has not released the results of Trump's latest COVID-19 test, and has declined to say when he last tested negative

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump made his first public appearance since returning to the White House on Monday from a three-day stay in hospital for COVID-19, even as his aides remained silent on whether he is still contagious.
Standing alone and not wearing a mask, Trump spoke from the White House balcony at an event called "a peaceful protest for law & order," attended by a few hundred people standing on the lawn below. His appearance is seen as a first step toward resuming full campaigning next week.
Speaking without hesitation, Trump appeared to be back to his usual rallying form, boasting about his record and hurling unsubstantiated allegations against his opponents as a packed crowd of supporters chanted, "We love you."
It was the first public event Trump has held since he was released from the hospital on Monday, when some observers watching his return to the White House said he appeared at times to be short of breath.
The White House has released videos and Trump has called into television shows since then, but this was the public's first chance to see the president live.
The White House has not released the results of Trump's latest COVID-19 test, and has declined to say when he last tested negative. A White House spokeswoman said on Friday that Trump would be tested for COVID-19 and would not go out in public if it was determined he could still spread the virus.
Scott Atlas, the doctor advising Trump, declined to comment on Trump's last test when approached by Reuters outside the event cordon. He was not wearing a mask.
Trump, who has campaigned on a law-and-order theme during recent months of sometimes violent protests for racial justice, told Saturday's gathering that the Republican Party had the support of America's police forces.
"We have law enforcement watching," he said. "We're on the side of right."
Trump's efforts to portray himself as tough on crime have had little impact on his standing in national opinion polls, which show him trailing his Democratic challenger Joe Biden by double digits. But the gap between the two candidates is narrower in the battleground states that may determine who wins the White House.


Greece, France to sign $2.8 billion fighter jet deal amid Turkey tensions

Greece, France to sign $2.8 billion fighter jet deal amid Turkey tensions
Updated 25 January 2021

Greece, France to sign $2.8 billion fighter jet deal amid Turkey tensions

Greece, France to sign $2.8 billion fighter jet deal amid Turkey tensions
  • Florence Parly, the French defense minister, signed the agreement in Athens to deliver 12 used and six new aircraft
  • France has sided with Greece in a dispute with Turkey over boundaries in the Aegean Sea and eastern Mediterranean

ATHENS, Greece: Greece signed a 2.3 billion-euro ($2.8 billion) deal with France on Monday to purchase 18 Rafale fighter jets, as tensions remain high with neighbor Turkey.
Florence Parly, the French defense minister, signed the agreement in Athens to deliver 12 used and six new aircraft built by Dassault Aviation over two years, starting in July.
France has sided with Greece in a dispute over boundaries in the Aegean Sea and eastern Mediterranean that has brought NATO members Greece and Turkey to the brink of war several times in recent decades.
Tension spiked again last summer when a Turkish exploration mission in disputed waters triggered a dangerous military build-up.
Greece and Turkey have agreed to restart talks aimed at resolving the dispute peacefully. Senior diplomats from the two countries met in Istanbul Monday to resume the process that had been interrupted for nearly five years.
But Athens says it will continue a multibillion-euro program to upgrade its military following years of cuts due to the country’s financial crisis.
France and the United States are in competition to provide the Greek navy with new frigates, while Greece’s government recently approved plans to cooperate with Israeli defense electronics firm Elbit Systems to create a new military flight academy in southern Greece.
“The upgrade in the capabilities of the Hellenic Air Force by means of both the acquisition of new fighter aircraft and the new state-of-the-art training center is critical for Greece to present a credible deterrence,” Michael Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, told The Associated Press.
“It also provides Athens an enhanced ability to exercise more strategic autonomy when EU and NATO frameworks are deemed inadequate, making Greece more of a player in its own right.”
Starting in May, mandatory national service in the Greek Armed Forces will be increased from nine to 12 months to boost the number of people serving in uniform. While in Athens, Parly will also holding talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.