Trump on world stage in New York
NEW YORK» President Trump’s first address to the United Nations, the world body he once said risked becoming an irrelevant salon, will be a test of his “America First” agenda on global engagement, climate change and North Korea, but one topic — Iran — looms largest.
Trump’s speech Tuesday and a series of meetings he will hold this week with foreign leaders gathering here at the annual U.N. General Assembly are freighted with expectations that the U.S. leader wants to pull away from the 2015 U.n.-backed nuclear deal with Iran.
Trump faces an Oct. 15 deadline to say whether Iran is complying with terms of the deal and whether he considers the agreement to be in the U.S. national interest. His administration has recently signaled that he is likely to say no, raising the specter of renewed U.S. sanctions and the possibility
that the deal would fall apart.
“You’ll see what I’m going to be doing very shortly in October,” Trump told reporters Thursday when asked about his decision. “The Iran deal is one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen. Certainly, at a minimum, the spirit of the deal is atrociously kept.”
The president added: “The Iran deal is not a fair deal to this country. It’s a deal that should not have ever been made. We are not going to stand what they are doing with our country. They’ve violated so many different elements, and they’ve also violated the spirit of that deal.”
Most who will be in the audience for Trump’s speech disagree. The European Union, one of the architects of the deal, hopes to hold a meeting of the signatories, including Iran, on the sidelines of the General Assembly session.
“This agreement is a very important agreement,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said Wednesday. “It contributed to an important de-escalation at the moment, and it is a factor of stability. And it’s my opinion that all parties should do everything possible for this agreement to be preserved.”
White House officials sketched out an ambitious series of events for Trump, including bilateral meetings Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump is expected to focus on “Iran’s destabilizing behavior, including its violation of the sovereignty of nations across the Middle East,” national security adviser H.R. Mcmaster told reporters Friday.
The president also will have lunch with Guterres, and he’ll meet with leaders of Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Turkey, Afghanistan and Ukraine. And Trump will hold a trilateral dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss North Korea’s nuclear weapons threat.
While Trump’s debut Tuesday is perhaps the most highly anticipated moment, the U.N. gathering is also notable for who will not be there — Russian President Vladimir Putin or China’s Xi Jinping, who are both skipping this year’s meeting. Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto head of Myanmar, also will not attend amid a spate of government-backed ethnic violence in that country that has drawn international condemnation.
Trump has been a skeptic of international organizations such as the U.N. and NATO. He has pulled the United States out of the Paris climate agreement and an Asia-pacific trade accord, promoting a foreign policy aimed at limiting U.S. interventionism abroad in favor of domestic priorities.
Yet Trump administration officials said the president and his team are intent on having a strong presence and demonstrating leadership in New York on issues including terrorism, trade and human rights. Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will join Trump in the U.S. delegation.
“No one is going to grip-andgrin,” U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said of handshake photoops. “The United States is going to work. This is a time to be serious, and it’s a time for us to talk out these challenges and make sure there’s action that follows it.”
As he did with NATO, Trump has pressed the U.N. for reforms, and Haley emphasized that the administration has seen improvements. She said the world body has moved away from “focusing on the commas and the periods” of toothless resolutions and begun taking stronger actions.