The Latest: Obama says Libya bombing to restore stability


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the visit of the prime minister of Singapore to the White House (all times local):

11:50 a.m.

President Barack Obama says the new U.S. bombing operation in Libya is needed to drive out Islamic State group militants and restore stability to the troubled North African country.

Obama told reporters Tuesday at a White House news conference that the campaign had been requested by internationally-backed authorities in Libya and would continue for as long as necessary. He said it is in the vital national security interest of the United States.

The president reiterated his regret that conditions in Libya have deteriorated in recent years. But he also repeated his belief that the NATO-led bombing that drove dictator Moammar Gadhafi from power was necessary to prevent massacres.

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11:40 a.m.

President Barack Obama is challenging leading Republicans to repudiate Donald Trump.

Obama says Trump’s criticism of a fallen Muslim-American soldier’s family is the latest evidence that the GOP presidential nominee isn’t ready to lead the country.

The president said Trump is unfit to be president and ‘he keeps on proving it’

Obama is also citing Trump’s misstatements on global crises.

At a news conference Tuesday, Obama noted that many leading Republicans in Congress have denounced various Trump statements.

But he asked why they are still endorsing him.

Obama said there has to be a point when people break with the party’s standard-bearer.

Otherwise, he said the denunciations are hollow.

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11:30 a.m.

President Barack Obama is reaffirming his commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal.

Obama says people have legitimate fears about the impact of globalization and being “left behind” but the answer cannot be to back away from trade and the global economy.

He says to “pull up the drawbridge” would hurt American workers.

Obama was addressing a news conference after meeting Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the White House Tuesday. The U.S. and Singapore are among the 12 nations in the TPP that would cut trade barriers and tariffs.

Opposition to the TPP is intensifying in the United States, with both major presidential contenders campaigning against it.

Lee is urging Congress to ratify the deal as soon as possible.

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9:55 a.m.

President Barack Obama and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong are sitting down for a formal meeting in the Oval Office.

The two leaders walked side by side together along the West Wing colonnade from the South Lawn after the arrival ceremony for Lee. In the Oval Office, they exchanged pleasantries and joked with each other but made no comments to reporters who were briefly allowed in for the start of their meeting.

U.S.-Asia relations and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal involving both Singapore and the United States are on the agenda.

Obama and Lee plan to hold a joint news conference at the White House following their meeting.

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9:40 a.m.

President Barack Obama says Singapore is an anchor for U.S. efforts to boost ties to Asia and has been a “rock-solid” partner.

Obama is welcoming Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the White House for a state visit. He says the U.S. and Singapore share a common vision for a peaceful and prosperous Asia.

Lee says the world has changed dramatically since the U.S. and Singapore opened diplomatic relations 50 years ago. He says American policies and actions have contributed to peace and prosperity in Asia, though he says the region isn’t without challenges.

Lee is also urging the U.S. Congress to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal.

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9:15 a.m.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are welcoming the leader of Singapore to the White House for a state visit marking 50 years of diplomatic relations between their countries.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was greeted by an elaborate welcome ceremony as his limousine pulled in to the South Lawn of the White House. Hundreds of U.S. military members in blue and white uniforms formed an honor guard, some carrying bayoneted rifles. A canon fired repeatedly as a military band played the two countries’ national anthems.

Obama and the prime minister plan to meet in the Oval Office before taking questions from reporters. Lee will also be honored with a state dinner on Tuesday evening.

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9 a.m.

The prime minister of Singapore is joining President Barack Obama at the White House to celebrate the 50th anniversary of U.S. diplomatic relations with the Southeast Asian city state. But the two leaders will also discuss a shared cause with less rosy prospects — the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal.

Singapore, a close U.S. partner, is one of the 12 nations in the TPP, an agreement key to Obama’s effort to boost U.S. exports and build strategic ties in Asia. But Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Washington visit starting Tuesday comes as opposition to the TPP intensifies in the United States. Both Republican contender Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who are competing to succeed Obama as president, are against it.

Speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce late Monday, Lee urged its ratification, saying the pact would give the U.S. better access to the markets that account for 40 percent of global economic output. He said it would also add heft add heft to Washington’s so-called “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific.

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