Trump condemns killing of Russian ambassador to Turkey

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE - Associated Press 20 December 2016, 12:00AM

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump vowed Monday that the Islamic State Group and other "Islamist terrorists" would be "eradicated from the face of the earth" after violent incidents in Turkey and Berlin.

Trump first released a statement on the killing of Russia's ambassador to Turkey, calling the brazen daytime shooting of the diplomat in front of a crowd of people at a photo exhibit a "violation of all rules of civilized order."

Trump said the ambassador, Andrei Karlov, was assassinated by a radical Islamic terrorist.

"The murder of an ambassador is a violation of all rules of civilized order and must be universally condemned," Trump said in a written statement, issued as he conducted transition meetings at his Palm Beach, Florida, estate.

Turkish authorities said gunman, who was identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a member of Ankara's riot police squad, was later killed in a shootout with police. Altintas shouted in Turkish about the Syrian city of Aleppo and also yelled "Allahu akbar," the Arabic phrase for "God is great."

Trump then offered condolences to victims of a truck crash in a crowded Christmas market in Berlin that killed at least nine people and injured around 50.

German authorities were still investigating the event. The White House said it "appears to have been a terrorist attack."

Trump said the Islamic State group "and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad." He added that they must be "eradicated from the face of the earth" and pledged to carry out that mission with the United States' "freedom-loving partners."

Trump's statements came on a busy day for the incoming president. He announced his candidate for the post of secretary of the Army, held a round of transition meetings and was formally elected president by the Electoral College.

Trump's choice of Army veteran and fellow New Yorker Vincent Viola to be his Army secretary will put another billionaire in leading role in the new administration.

Trump also met with a group of businessmen and former U.S. government officials as he sought to fill other posts, including that of U.S. trade representative. He met with Robert Lighthizer, a former deputy U.S. trade representative in the Reagan administration, an official said.

Viola is a West Point graduate who joins a list of former military men already chosen for the Cabinet. Trump's picks for defense secretary, homeland security secretary, national security adviser and deputy national security adviser are retired military.

In a separate written statement, Trump praised Viola, the son of Italian immigrants, as "living proof of the American dream" and someone who has a lengthy history of engagement with national security issues.

Viola grew up in Brooklyn, the first member of his family to attend college. He was trained as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer and served in the 101st Airborne Division. A lawyer, he started multiple businesses and bought the Florida Panthers hockey team for $250 million in 2013.

Trump announced his choice for Army secretary from Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach, Florida, estate where he was spending the holidays with his family and working on the transition. It came as electors in all 50 states formally elected him president, paving his way to take office on Jan. 20.

Viola would join a circle of wealthy businessmen Trump has chosen for the administration, including fast food executive Andy Puzder to lead the Labor Department, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for Commerce, financier Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary and Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn as his top economic adviser.

More open posts remain. Trump also met Monday with Thad Allen, the retired Coast Guard commandant who oversaw the federal response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

R. Donahue Peebles, board chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, also met with Trump. Peebles is also founder, chairman and CEO of Peebles Corp., a real estate development and investment company.

J. Christopher Reyes, co-chairman of Reyes Holdings, a Chicago-based beer and food distributor, also sat down with the president-elect.

Meanwhile, Vice President-elect Mike Pence was holding transition meetings in New York, including a foreign policy discussion with Henry Kissinger, who was secretary of state under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE - Associated Press 20 December 2016, 12:00AM

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