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‘Saw potential across the street’: Trump talks up his skyscraper ahead of debut at UN

Trump has been quite critical of the world body, referring to it as a “a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time”.

world Updated: Sep 18, 2017 22:29 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,Nikki Haley,United Nations
US President Donald Trump with his ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, at a session on reforming the UN.(Reuters)

US President Donald Trump, who is attending his first UN general assembly this week, began his remarks on how to reform the world body by promoting a property owned by him.

“I actually saw great potential right across the street, to be honest with you, and it was only for the reason that the United Nations was here that that turned out to be such a successful project,” Trump said, after he was introduced by his ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.

He was referring to the Trump World Tower, a skyscraper in New York City that is home to many diplomats serving at the UN headquarters on the other side of the road.

Trump has been quite critical of the world body, referring to it as a “a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time”. “The United Nations was founded on truly noble goals,” he said, adding that in recent years, it “has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement.” He pointed to the 140% rise in its budget and doubling of it staff since 2000.

The US — the largest UN contributor, with 22% of its $5.4 billion biennial budget and 28.5% of its $7.3 billion peacekeeping budget — has backed administrative reforms of the UN secretariat which were proposed by secretary general Antonio Guterres.

India too is supporting the reforms, but has said it was time for the UN to also move forcefully on governance reforms and bring the world body more in line with the changed world. In other words, expand the permanent membership of the security council; India is a leading claimant to a permanent seat.

World leaders gathered at the United Nations will anxious to hear what Trump says in his first remarks, as he inaugurates the general assembly debate on Tuesday. Previewing his remarks, national security adviser HR McMaster told reporters last week that the consistent message will to emphasise three goals: “First, to promote peace. Second, to promote prosperity. And third, to uphold sovereignty and accountability.”

But he said that the “bedrock” of all “economic talks” during the week will be “this administration’s ironclad commitment to free, fair, and reciprocal trade and access to markets”.

Trump will also focus on North Korea, whose recent nuclear tests and a string of missile tests poses one of the biggest challenges faced by the world community today.

Asked if the speech will include direct messages to Iran and North Korea, Haley had told reporters: “I personally think he slaps the right people, he hugs the right people, and he comes out with the US being very strong in the end.”

First Published: Sep 18, 2017 21:59 IST