WATCH: Melania Trump to UN: 'Step up' to protect children
Watch first lady Melania Trump's U.N. speech on Wednesday.
NEW YORK — First lady Melania Trump on Wednesday called on world leaders to come together for the good of their children, delivering her first public remarks at the United Nations as the White House works to strengthen its relationships abroad.
Warning that children are closely watching their example, she told the spouses of world leaders that they "must teach each other the values of empathy and communication that are at the core of kindness, mindfulness, integrity and leadership."
"We must come together for the good of our children," Trump said at a luncheon at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York. She added, "We must remember that they are watching and listening, so we must never miss an opportunity to teach life's many ethical lessons along the way."
The day before, President Donald Trump drew some criticism after calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "Rocket man" before the United Nations General Assembly. The U.S. president vowed to "totally destroy" North Korea if forced to defend the U.S. or its allies.
On Wednesday, the first lady's head table featured the spouses of French President Emmanuel Macron, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, among others.
The 47-year-old first lady has played a muted role in the early months of her husband's administration. She announced plans to combat cyber bullying during the campaign, but has yet to unveil any specific policies.
In remarks that spanned less than 8 minutes, Trump said Wednesday that children are often "hit first and hardest in any country" when it comes to drug addiction, bullying, poverty, disease, trafficking, illiteracy and hunger.
"No child should ever feel hungry, stalked, frightened, terrorized, bullied, isolated or afraid, with nowhere to turn," she said. "We need to step up, come together, and ensure that our children's future is bright."
She avoided North Korea and the more contentious foreign policy challenges facing her husband's administration.
AP writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.