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Tim Cook is defending his meeting with Trump, telling Apple employees he doesn't want to sit on the sidelines

“Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be,” Cook wrote on an employee website.

President Trump and Apple CEO Tim Cook Getty

Apple CEO Tim Cook defended his meeting last week with Donald Trump, arguing that the only way to influence the incoming president is to engage with him.

“Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be,” Cook wrote on an internal Apple message board. “The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. So whether it’s in this country, or the European Union, or in China or South America, we engage. And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree. I think it’s very important to do that because you don’t change things by just yelling. You change things by showing everyone why your way is the best. In many ways, it’s a debate of ideas.”

Cook’s comments, reported earlier on Monday by TechCrunch, were confirmed by Recode.

He was asked: “Last week you joined other tech leaders to meet President-elect Donald Trump. How important is it for Apple to engage with governments?”

Cook responded that it was very important, saying “governments can affect our ability to do what we do.”

“They can affect it in positive ways and they can affect [it] in not so positive ways,” Cook said, adding that Apple has stood up in the past for what it believes in and would continue to do so as needed.

“What we do is focus on the policies. Some of our key areas of focus are on privacy and security, education. They’re on advocating for human rights for everyone, and expanding the definition of human rights. They’re on the environment and really combating climate change, something we do by running our business on 100 percent renewable energy.”

Indeed, Apple has drawn Trump’s ire in the past for its refusal to help law enforcement crack encrypted iPhones. The company has also pledged it would not take part in any effort to build a registry of Muslim-Americans. Trump has also called on Apple to manufacture more of its goods here.

Cook was among a number of tech leaders who took part in a group meeting with Trump last week, where he raised issues related to science and math education, and also had a private meeting with the president-elect.

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