President Donald Trump totes his “America First” stance this week to the United Nations General Assembly, the annual inundation of diplomats and world leaders who this year await the new US leader with uneasy anticipation.
The summit in Trump’s hometown — New York City — has become the quickest-paced diplomatic event on the calendar for an American president. Trump arrived to the soaring, green-hued assembly hall facing open questions about his approach to hot-button issues like climate change and the Iran nuclear accord.
His schedule over four days is stacked with one-on-one talks with foreign counterparts eager to discuss those global flash-points, as well as the deepening standoff with North Korea. The centerpiece, however, comes Tuesday during Trump’s first UN address, a landmark foreign policy moment at the eight-month mark of his presidency.
“This will be a great week, we look forward to it, as far as North Korea is concerned, I think that most of you know how I feel,” Trump said as he strode into the UN headquarters building on Monday.
Once deeply critical of the UN — right down to its iconic emerald marble — Trump as President has achieved his principal diplomatic wins at the body’s Security Council, which has passed waves of sanctions on North Korea.
His first formal comments inside the headquarters building, however, focused not on diplomacy but on real estate.
He offered a more skeptical view of the UN’s efficacy or its value to the United States.
The UN “has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement,” Trump said at the start of a session focused on reforming the institution.
“We seek a United Nations that works to regain the trust of people around the world,” Trump said, insisting that member states “cut through bureaucracy” to better drive positive change.
For Trump, Tuesday’s speech and the ensuing flurry of diplomacy presents an opportunity to more fully articulate a global agenda that has confounded allies and foes alike.