The Latest: UK's Hammond puts some Brexit blame on Blair

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) " The Latest on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (all times local):

3.10 p.m.

Britain's Treasury chief, Philip Hammond, says the former prime minister, Tony Blair, is partly responsible for the country's vote to leave the European Union for failing to introduce measures to limit the flow of people from countries that joined the bloc in 2004.

Hammond said June's vote showed there was a "strong strand of feeling" against the uncontrolled movement of people within the EU and he laid the responsibility for that "squarely at the door" of Blair.

Blair, who was prime minister from 1997 to 2007 and remains a keen EU advocate, did not impose transitional controls back in 2004, when ten countries, mostly from eastern Europe, joined the EU. Most other EU countries did impose restrictions, meaning that Britain took the "full force of the tide," according to Hammond.

That, Hammond said, created a public perception that "we still haven't shaken off."

Hammond also said the Brexit vote was not a vote against free trade and globalization.

___

2.30 p.m.

Germany's finance minister doubts that the incoming Donald Trump administration in the U.S. will abandon free trade.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Wolfgang Schaeuble said he can't imagine "huge damage" being done to free trade.

He said he's "quite optimistic" that the U.S. and the western world as a whole won't leave the defense of free trade to Chinese leadership.

Earlier this week, in a speech to the business leaders assembled at the WEF, Chinese President Xi Jinping cast his country as a champion of free trade and stability at a time when many are worried that Trump will augur in more protectionist times.

Schaeuble also said that discussions over Britain's exit from the European Union have to be managed in such a way as to "minimize" the damage to both the Britain and to Europe. He also said his first reaction to Brexit was to cry and that his second was that it's "a waking up call for Europe."

___

12.00 p.m.

A top Turkish official says his country can no longer insist on any settlement for Syria's long-running war without Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek says the blame for Syria's nearly six-year war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people is "squarely on Assad." Turkey has long opposed Assad, and supported rebels fighting his forces.

Speaking in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Simsek said, however, that Turkey has to be "realistic" and "facts on the ground have changed dramatically" in Syria.

"So Turkey can no longer insist on, you know, a settlement without Assad," he said.

Simsek also said that Turkey has "high hopes" for Syrian peace talks planned next week and hosted by Turkey, Russia and Iran in Astana, Kazakhstan.

___

11.50 a.m.

A Syrian teen refugee and Olympic swimmer, a Malian studying at Stanford, a French coding student " they're all arguing that their generation needs global mobility to thrive instead of walls and isolationism.

They've got a high-profile audience this week, as they meet global executives and top officials at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.

Yusra Mardini fled Syria's war on a sinking boat and struggled across multiple borders to a new life in Germany. Last year she competed at the Rio Olympics, and now she's using her experience to urge more openness to refugees.

The 18-year-old told The Associated Press in Davos: "You can't push anyone to love the refugees." She acknowledged concerns that large waves of migrants include some criminals or people abusing rich country hospitality. But most, she said, are in genuine need and "are just trying to have peace again."

Adramane Diabate, 24, considers himself a "global migrant." He abandoned elite military training in his native Mali and went to live in Senegal, South Africa, Panama and now California, and says that countries need open borders to thrive.

Also speaking in Davos, he said, "We are in a place and time where restricting our movements is not going to help us to create a peaceful and harmonious global society."

___

11:20 a.m.

Britain's treasury chief says Donald Trump's accession to the U.S. presidency is likely to create even more uncertainty for Europe than his country's unprecedented departure from the EU.

Philip Hammond, speaking in Switzerland ahead of Trump's inauguration Friday, said "the change of administration in Washington is a very big issue" for Britain and the rest of the EU.

After a campaign critical of free trade and Europe's migration and defense policy, Trump "has probably introduced a bigger uncertainty" for the EU than the Brexit vote, Hammond said.

Barclays CEO Jes Staley, speaking with Hammond at the World Economic Forum, said the U.S. vote for Trump "clearly challenged the notion of a global economic union" and urged the new Trump administration not to attack free trade.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 27 Mar 2017 17:44:15 Processing Time: 587ms