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Trump Backs Off Campaign Promises On Climate Change

President-elect Donald Trump gestures as he arrives for a day of meetings at the clubhouse of the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on November 20.

Donald Trump is backing off from his campaign promises to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, as the Republican president-elect continues building his administration team.

In an interview with editors and reporters from The New York Times on November 22, Trump indicated he did, in fact, think there was some connection between human activity and global warming.

And he said he would "keep an open mind" about pulling the United States out of the landmark Paris Agreement, to curb climate-warming emissions.

During the rancorous campaign, Trump alarmed environmentalists and climate change scientists by saying outright that he would rescind the U.S. signature on the deal.

In the interview, Trump softened his campaign position that his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, should be prosecuted for her use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.

That call had fired up his hardcore supporters who chanted "Lock Her Up!" at his campaign rallies. But it also alarmed many Americans as potentially destabilizing for the U.S. democratic system.

"I don't want to hurt the Clintons, I really don't," Trump said in the interview. "She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways."

Тrump, who will formally take office on January 20, also rejected any sort of "reset" in relations with Russia, but repeated his stance that Washington and Moscow should get along better, particularly in Syria.

He repeated his comments about the U.S. war in Iraq, calling it "one of the great mistakes in the history of our country."

And he said he had some "strong ideas" for dealing with the six-year-old civil war in Syria, though he declined to go into specifics.

"We have to end that craziness that’s going on in Syria," he said.

Moscow has backed the Syrian regime in its fight against insurgents, but Washington has supported more moderate rebels, and wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave.

And Trump also repeated his past assertions that Russia and the United States should do more to find common ground and cooperate on mutual concerns, such as terrorism.

But he rejected calling any such warming a "reset" -- the term used by his election rival, Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state, trying to mend ties with Moscow. That effort failed, and bilateral ties are now lower than at any time since the Cold War.

"I wouldn’t use that term [reset] after what happened," Trump said.

With reporting by The New York Times and AP
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