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Kerry: 'Valuable' for Trump to seek advice before diplomatic calls

Secretary of State John Kerry has encouraged Donald Trump to seek advice from the State Department before contacting foreign leaders. On Sunday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence downplayed Trump's recent talk with Taiwan.

After several recent conversations between President-elect Donald Trump and number of foreign leaders, most recently a 10-minute talk with Taiwan's leader Tsai Ing-wen earlier this week, outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry said during a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Sunday afternoon that it would be "valuable" for Trump if he took advice from state officials before such calls.

"We have not been contacted before any of these conversations," Kerry told the conference on Sunday. "I do think there is a value, obviously on having at least the recommendations. Whether you choose to follow them or not is a different issue, but I think it's valuable to ask people who work the desk ... their input on what's the current state, is there some particular issue at the moment, I think that's valuable, and I would certainly recommend it, but, obviously, that hasn't happened."

Since his election win last month, Trump has accepted congratulatory calls from the leaders of more than 50 countries, including Israel, Singapore, Japan and China, senior aide and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Sunday. Speaking to reporters at Trump Tower, Conway said the president-elect was "not really a talking points kind of guy."

Vice President-elect Mike Pence (Getty Images/C. Somodevilla)

Pence said the Trump administration would focus on China policy after January 20

'Tempest in a teapot': Pence

During an interview on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence dismissed the row as a "tempest in a teapot."

"He received a courtesy call from the democratically elected president of Taiwan," Pence said. "They reached out to offer congratulations as leaders around the world have and he took the call, accepted her congratulations and good wishes and it was precisely that."

Pence's repeated use of the title "president" referring to Tsai Ing-wen is likely to offend Beijing, as China regards self-ruling Taiwan as part of its own territory, awaiting reunification.

Asked during the interview if he understood China's objections, Pence replied: "Yes, of course." As for whether there would be any implications for the "one China" policy, Pence said that "we'll deal with policy after January 20," referring to the date when Trump is to be sworn in as president.

Trump reacts on Twitter

Trump was heavily criticized for his call with the Taiwanese president, and fired back over the weekend on Twitter. Most notably on Sunday, Trump criticized Chinese economic and military policies. 

jm/cmk (Reuters)

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