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Trump at the UN: What to watch for Wednesday
President Trump on Wednesday will turn his attention to the Middle East and North Africa in his latest round of meetings with world leaders at the United Nations.
A day after Trump's maiden speech before the general assembly – in which he threatened North Korea, condemned Iran and bemoaned the United States' disproportional spending on the U.N. – the president will seek to unite Arab countries behind a Middle East peace deal and a shared effort to curb global terrorism.
Here's what to watch for on Trump's third day of U.N. meetings:
An elusive Middle East peace deal
Trump's talk of bringing about a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians – an effort that has escaped U.S. administrations for decades – faces another test Wednesday when he meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The meeting comes two days after Trump met with Abbas's Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the two speaking in optimistic terms about a peace agreement.
Trump, who has tapped his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to spearhead the peace effort, said a deal would be a "fantastic achievement" and insisted that all of the parties involved are committed to "giving it a go."
"I think Israel would like to see it. I think the Palestinians would like to see it. I can tell you the Trump administration would like to see it. We're working very hard, we'll see what happens," Trump said after meeting with Netanyahu. "Historically people say it can't happen. I'd say it can happen."
Netanyahu wasn't as bold in his remarks but said he'd be happy to "seize the opportunity for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and the Arab world."
Cracks in the US and Britain's 'special relationship'?
Trump will meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday following fresh diplomatic tensions between the two leaders.
The pair famously held hands as they walked the colonnade outside the White House shortly after Trump took office in January. Since then, May has brushed the president back or broke with him on a number of fronts.
Last week, following an explosion at a London Underground station, May expressed frustration with Trump for tweeting that the "loser terrorist" responsible for the attack was "in the sights of Scotland Yard."
"I don't think it's helpful for anyone to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation," May said.
In meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, May has also stressed the importance of the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran.
Trump ripped that agreement in his Tuesday speech, calling it "one of the worst and most one-sided transaction the United States has ever entered into."
"Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States and I don't think you've heard the last of it, believe me," Trump said.
The White House has until Oct. 15 to notify Congress of whether it believes Iran is in compliance with the agreement.
Still, Trump and May appear to have a mutual admiration for one another.
May said Sunday during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" that the pair "work very well together" and that Trump has an "affection for the United Kingdom."
Terrorism and seeking partners in the Arab world
Trump on Wednesday is slated to meet with the leaders of Jordan and Egypt, two nations in the region that could play a key role in the Israeli-Palestinian talks.
Jordan's King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are acting as brokers in the peace talks and seeking to get other countries on board.
Abdullah is a also a key partner in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and his country has been absorbing a large number of Syrian refugees.
Sisi, who met separately with Netanyahu and Abbas this week, said at the White House earlier this year that he believes Trump is "capable of the impossible."
Trump has expressed an eagerness to improve relations with Egypt after the U.S. stripped the nation of millions of dollars in humanitarian aide as part of sanctions over a 2013 coupe.
The president is also likely to discuss his desire to stamp out Islamic extremism with both leaders. In his Tuesday speech, Trump called on leaders in the Middle East to partner with the U.S. to "crush the loser terrorists."
"We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world," Trump said.
US involvement in developing countries
Trump, who has been a vocal critic of the U.N., had few positive things to say about the international body on Tuesday aside from stressing its "great, great potential."
One of the few sunny spots was Trump's praise for the U.N. peacekeeping missions that have made "invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflicts in Africa."
Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster said that the president will host a working luncheon Wednesday with leaders to discuss how the U.S. "can help African nations develop their economies, address urgent challenges, and strengthen security relationships and economic relationships between our nations."
Trump noted that the U.S. leads the world in humanitarian assistance and famine prevention in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen, and he spoke glowingly of the anti-AIDS program PEPFAR, as well as malaria initiatives that benefit the continent.
[Source: By Jonathan Easley, The Hill, Washington, 20Sep17]
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