Trump To Make Debut Speech Tuesday At U.N. General Assembly

Sep 18, 2017
Originally published on September 18, 2017 5:18 pm
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Geoff Bennett covers the White House for NPR, and he joins us now from New York, where he's among a small group of reporters getting a firsthand look at President Trump's debut at the U.N. Hi, Geoff.

GEOFF BENNETT, BYLINE: Hello from the atrium of Trump Tower, Ari.

SHAPIRO: So as we've heard, the president is pushing a reform message as he makes his first visit as commander in chief to the U.N. What else was on his agenda today?

BENNETT: Well, he spoke by phone with China's president, Xi Jinping. We're told they spoke specifically about ways to use U.N. Security Council resolutions to exert more pressure on North Korea. China's president isn't here in New York for the summit, hence the phone call. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was here - is here, rather. And he and President Trump met for a conversation that seemed to focus on Iran but more so Mideast peace. Trump told reporters after that meeting - he said there's a good chance that it could happen, but he didn't delve into specifics.

And President Trump, Ari, also met with French President Emmanuel Macron, who is also making his U.N. debut. And remember, Macron - he fostered really sort of an unlikely partnership with President Trump when he hosted him in Paris this past July and Trump was the guest of honor at their Bastille Day parade. Well, it turns out President Trump was pretty taken by that military display, and he told Macron he wants to try something similar stateside. Take a listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: To a large extent, because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July 4 in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: I don't know. We're going to have to try and top it. But we had a lot of planes going over, and we had a lot of military might. And it was really a beautiful thing to see.

SHAPIRO: Geoff, with so many international leaders there in New York, how is the international community responding to President Trump at this U.N. summit?

BENNETT: Well, you know, as best as I can tell it's been a pleasant reception. Of course, that is what one would expect at the U.N., which is teeming with diplomats. But Trump, as we know, he's belittled the U.N. in the past. At previous international summits he's been at the center of disputes over, you know, participation, over climate change, over trade. But U.N. experts tell me that Trump and his unconventional approach, his unpredictability - those are all now known quantities among world leaders.

And White House officials say that he'll continue to take a more measured approach in his interaction and his speeches, you know, quite literally sticking to the script. And he's really going to try to emphasize a need for more cooperation across a range of global challenges.

SHAPIRO: Well, speaking of the script, briefly give us a preview of what he's expected to say in his address tomorrow.

BENNETT: Well, the president's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, says that Trump is emphasizing on this visit what he calls three international goals - peace, prosperity and sovereignty. Other presidents have talked about the first two even pushed, you know, reform at the U.N. But sovereignty, I think, is where we're going to see President Trump emphasize this America first agenda but not in the way that we might think. I think the president, according to people familiar, he isn't going to suggest that America first means America alone when it comes to international cooperation.

He's going to try to make the case that member nations serve the interests of their own citizens when they work together and share in the burden of fighting terrorism, of propping up destabilized...

SHAPIRO: All right.

BENNETT: ...Parts of the world, that sort of thing.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Geoff Bennett traveling with President Trump and joining us from New York City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.