Trump declares America open for business under his tenure

President Donald Trump delivers a speech to the World Economic Forum, Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, in Davos. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Declaring that America is open for business under his leadership, President Donald Trump told a gathering of political and business elites on Friday that the economic growth taking place in the U.S. due to his "America first" agenda also benefits the rest of the world.

Trump said in his speech to the World Economic Forum that American prosperity has created countless jobs around the world, and that the drive for excellence and innovation has led to important discoveries that help people everywhere.

"The world is witnessing the resurgence of a strong and prosperous America," Trump said. "There has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest and to grow in the United States. America is open for business and we are competitive once again."

Trump also sought to reassure the globalist and cooperation-minded audience that his protectionist vision "does not mean America alone."

"When the United States grows, so does the world," Trump said. "American prosperity has created countless jobs around the globe and the drive for excellence, creativity and innovation in the United States has led to important discoveries that help people everywhere live more prosperous and healthier lives."

The gathering of global elites with a free trade penchant had viewed Trump with skepticism, given his "America First" message, but the White House has insisted that his protectionist policies and international cooperation can go hand-in-hand.

While interest in the president's remarks has been keen, the moment was shadowed by a report in The New York Times that he had ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller last June, but backed off after White House lawyer Don McGahn threatened to resign.

Asked about the report as he entered the conference center, Trump said: "Fake news, folks. Fake news. Typical New York Times fake stories."

The first sitting president to attend Davos since Bill Clinton in 2000, Trump was expected to use his speech to tout his economic agenda and argue America is open for business. He'll also stress his commitment to free markets under what he sees as fair terms.

Trump used his time at the summit to meet with world leaders, attend a reception in his honor and host business executives at a dinner. On his way in Friday he declared that his visit had been a success, adding: "We have a tremendous crowd and a crowd like they've never had before."

Trump sought earlier Friday to ease tensions with a key African leader, meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and calling him a "friend" in the aftermath of his controversial comments about African countries.

The meeting came after Trump drew widespread condemnation for allegedly referring to African nations as "shithole countries" in discussing immigration, according to those at the meeting. The president has denied using that language. Others present say he did.

And a day after Trump sought to make nice with British Prime Minister Theresa May, he said in a new interview that he "would certainly apologize" for retweeting anti-Muslim videos from a far-right British group.

Trump told British journalist Piers Morgan that "I know nothing about" the Britain First group and "would certainly apologize, if you'd like me to do that." A clip of the interview was released Friday, with the full interview scheduled to air Sunday on ITV.

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(Copyright ©2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)