US aid should only go to America's friends, says Trump

US aid should only go to America's friends, says Trump

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he has asked Congress to pass legislation ensuring that US aid is only delivered to "America's friends" and always serves its interests.

He made the remarksin his first State of the Union speech, delivered in the chamber of the House of Representatives Tuesday night.

The remarks about the foreign assistance followed his mentioning of the United Nations General Assembly vote against America's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"Shortly afterwards, dozens of countries voted in against America's sovereign right to make this recognition. American taxpayers generously send those same countries billions of dollars in aid every year.

"That is why, tonight, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to America's friends," he said in the speech. 'Terrorists should be treated like terrorists'

Trump urged Congress to ensure America continues to retain its power to be able to detain terrorists wherever "we chase them down".

Terrorists are not merely criminals but are unlawful enemy combatants, he stressed, adding that whenever they are captured, they "should be treated like terrorists".

Trump also announced to keep Guantanamo Bay open, breaking from his predecessor Barack Obama´s lengthy and ultimately failed efforts to shutter the maligned detention facility.

"I just signed an order directing Secretary Mattis to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay," Trump said.

Under president George W. Bush, the US military hastily constructed a prison camp on Guantanamo Bay, located on the US naval base on the eastern tip of Cuba, in the months following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

At the height of its operations after 9/11, the facility held 780 people, detained mostly for their alleged ties to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Since then, hundreds have been transferred back to their home countries or other places.

Some of the most notorious inmates, including several alleged 9/11 co-conspirators, among them accused mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, are still awaiting trial. 'No longer undermined by artificial timelines in Afghanistan'

Trump said in his address that the US military is no longer undermined by "artificial timelines" inAfghanistan.

"Our warriors in Afghanistan also have new rules of engagement. Along with their heroic Afghan partners, our military is no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies our plans."

State Department spokespersonHeather Nauert tweeted US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's statement on Trump's State of the Union address.

"As President Trump emphasizes, we keep America safe when our national security is based on the principle of peace through strength. We will continue to pursue the peaceful denuclearization of North Korea, prevent terrorists from regaining safe havens in Syria and Afghanistan, and hold Iran accountable for its full range of threatening activities.