What to expect from Trump’s first address to the UN


MEGAN THOMPSON, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: The United Nations General Assembly, the annual meeting of the leaders of the U.N.'s 193-member states, begins tomorrow in New York. On Tuesday, President Trump will deliver his first speech at the U.N., and in the past, he's accused it of weakness and incompetence and threatened to cut U.S. funding.

To discuss what to expect, I'm joined by "Washington Post" White House correspondent David Nakamura.

So, President Trump, this is his debut at the U.N. and as we mentioned, he has never been a huge fan.

Can you talk about what his administration has been doing to kind of approach this meeting and what we think he might say on Tuesday?


You know, I was at the White House the other day, when his top advisors, including U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and H.R. McMaster, the national security advisor, gave sort of a briefing. And President Trump as you said, has not really been a fan of some of these international institutions, such as NATO and the U.N. and said they've not lived up to their billing and that they're costing the U.S. too much in resources and relying too much on the United States to lead the way.

But what's interesting is that both of his aides said they really expect the United States and the administration to show a leadership role here on things ranging from North Korea's nuclear threat, the Iran nuclear deal, terrorism and even human rights, which President Trump has not talked about a lot.

But I think what's interesting is if you look back to last year, President Obama in his final address really said the world was at sort of point where it had to make a choice between sort of continuing and sort of the multilateral engagement that marked the post-World War II, or retreating, President Trump said, to tribalism and building walls. And, of course, we had a president in President Trump who campaigned on building a wall, and we don't know whether he'll actually get that done.

But the question is sort of a tone. Will Trump sort of paint a dark picture of the world in the way he's talked about it in the past, or will he sort of reach out and sort of talk about the merits of this kind of world body?

Nikki Haley said, the president, she's seen the speech, we haven't seen it, but that he said the president slaps the right people and he hugs the right people. In the end, the U.S. comes out stronger.

THOMPSON: OK. Let's talk about some of the specific issues. So, North Korea, obviously, is a big one. North Korea keeps testing missiles and nuclear weapons despite tougher U.N. sanctions. How do we think that might play out?

NAKAMURA: It's really interesting. Nikki Haley has really talked about the process at the U.N. She's sort of dismissive, said they were worried about, you know, crossing — dotting the I's and crossing the T's on — in comments and periods on resolutions that were somewhat toothless. But these votes to enact broad sanctions on oil exports from — to North Korea and cuts on North Korea exports is really going to pinch Pyongyang but no one expects that to necessarily change the calculus for Kim Jong-un. And I think President Trump himself has said he doesn't necessarily know how much these sanctions will do.

So, I think what you'll likely to hear from the president is continued tough talk. You know, he's talked about military options being on the table and Nikki Haley said that as well, and I think the question is what would that mean? And what else would it take for there to be some direct engagement with the regime in the North?

THOMPSON: What else? What else should we be looking for this week?

NAKAMURA: On Iran, the president's meeting on Monday with Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who's certainly very vocal against this Iran nuclear deal. The administration has sent signals that they don't think that the Iranian regime is complying with the spirit of that deal and suggested maybe that they would seek to maybe potentially enact more sanctions on Iran, which could unravel that deal.

There's a deadline in about a month for the administration to make a call whether Iran is complying. There's a lot of stake here for the president.

THOMPSON: David Nakamura of "The Washington Post", thank you so much for joining us.

NAKAMURA: Sure. Thanks. Anytime.

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