Diplo­mats ex­pect some signs of a shift in his pol­icy


UNITED NA­TIONS: US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump takes cen­ter stage at the UN next week when world lead­ers gather in New York, anx­ious to hear the US pres­i­dent out­line how he is re­shap­ing Wash­ing­ton’s role in global af­fairs.

The nu­clear cri­sis with North Korea, the fu­ture of the Iran nu­clear deal and Myanmar’s mil­i­tary crack­down against Ro­hingya Mus­lims are ex­pected to top the agenda at the world’s biggest diplo­matic gath­er­ing.

Trump will de­liver his first ad­dress to the an­nual Gen­eral Assem­bly high-level de­bate, which kicks off Tues­day with 129 heads of state and gov­ern­ment set to at­tend.

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron will also make his de­but, as will UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res, now nine months in the job.

But all eyes will be on Trump, whose elec­tion last year was de­scribed as a po­lit­i­cal earth­quake by UN diplo­mats now strug­gling with un­clear US poli­cies on global crises, from Syria to South Su­dan.

Wash­ing­ton’s friends and foes have been grap­pling with the im­pli­ca­tions of Trump’s “Amer­ica First” pol­icy and his ad­dress will be closely watched for signs of what’s in store.

While Trump is ex­pected to play to a do­mes­tic au­di­ence by re­assert­ing the themes that have made him pop­u­lar at home, diplo­mats are not rul­ing out some signs of a shift, on cli­mate change, for in­stance.

The US sparked global out­rage when it an­nounced in June that it was pulling out of the Paris cli­mate agree­ment, but that process will take three years, al­low­ing time for a re-think.

“Ex­pec­ta­tions are low, but that may play to Trump’s ad­van­tage” said Richard Gowan, a UN ex­pert from the Euro­pean Coun­cil of For­eign Re­la­tions.

“If he makes any friendly ges­tures, like hint­ing that the US could ac­tu­ally stay in the Paris cli­mate change agree­ment with a few tweaks, he will be ac­claimed as a states­man.”

“Glob­ally, public opin­ions of the pres­i­dent are pretty low,” said Martin Ed­wards, a UN ex­pert at Se­ton Hall Univer­sity. “I ex­pect the tone to be off-putting rather than en­gag­ing.”

On Tues­day, the French pres­i­dent will take the podium just a few speak­ers af­ter Trump and de­liver an ad­dress that will cham­pion mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism and re­new his call of ac­tion on cli­mate change.

Macron “can roll out an in­spir­ing vi­sion of global co­op­er­a­tion to eclipse the US pres­i­dent,” said Gowan.

“If Trump crashes and burns with a re­ally nasty speech, Macron will look par­tic­u­larly good.”

Dur­ing the myr­iad of bi­lat­eral meet­ings, North Korea’s mis­sile and nu­clear tests will be in the spot­light af­ter Rus­sia and China agreed to back a US push for tougher UN sanc­tions against Py­ongyang.

The North Korean cri­sis has pushed the war in Syria off the top of the global agenda, but there is no agree­ment among big pow­ers on the diplo­matic steps needed to avoid war.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will de­liver his first ad­dress to the an­nual Gen­eral Assem­bly high-level de­bate, which be­gins on Tues­day. (AFP)

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