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Trump pushes reform in United Nations debut, calls for ‘changing business as usual’

NEW YORK — President Trump called on the United Nations to enact reforms to the world body, pledging Monday in his debut here at the annual General Assembly meetings that he and his administration will be “partners in your work.”

Speaking at the General Assembly opening session, Trump said the organization founded in 1945 has “not reached its full potential” in recent years because of a bloated bureaucracy and “mismanagement.”

“We encourage all member states to look at ways to take bold stands at the United Nations with an eye toward changing business as usual and not being beholden to ways of the past which were not working,” Trump said, flanked by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary General António Guterres.

Trump had spoken dismissively of multilateral institutions, including the U.N. and NATO, during his campaign, promoting an “America first” agenda aimed at reducing the United States’s interventionism abroad in favor of domestic priorities.

His fellow leaders here at the annual gathering here of more than 150 delegations are listening for signs of how closely Trump will align himself with the U.N. in the face of a series of international challenges, including North Korea, Syria and Iran.

Introducing Trump, Haley said the former business mogul is “no stranger to change” and added that he “sees great potential, not just in the reform among members, but in the United Nations itself.”

Ahead of the meetings, Haley had lauded the U.N. for a pair of recent votes to enact severe economic sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The sanctions seek to cut off oil imports to Kim Jong Un’s regime and block exports from the country.

But Trump has also voiced concerns that the U.N. and NATO have relied too heavily on the United States and that other members should shoulder more of the economic and leadership burdens.

“We must ensure that no one and no member state shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden, and that’s militarily or financially,” Trump said. “We also ask that every peacekeeping mission have clearly defined goals and metrics for evaluating success.”

Trump couldn’t resist putting in a plug for one of his development projects — Trump World Tower, a residential skyscraper across the street from the U.N. headquarters that was completed in 2001. Former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway have been tenants, and the government of Saudi Arabia purchased the 45th floor.

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

Trump is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


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