he tweeted an optimistic “meet you there!” message to the despot who’s assassinated underlings with anti-aircraft guns.
pursuit of deals, no matter the dealmakers.
Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist who lived in the United States.
With tiny jars of strawberry jam and vases of yellow roses on the table, Trump brushed off a question on whether he would raise Khashoggi’s murder, which was carried out using a bone saw.
“Uh,” Trump said, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sat frowning next to him, “thank you very much.”
In Trump’s view, it’s the bad guys who can make the deals worth making, not necessarily the traditional US allies who are bound by legislatures and political concerns that would hamper their ability to negotiate.
son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner depends on financial contributions from the wealthy Gulf monarchies to the Palestinians, a gambit that has drawn deep skepticism.
US President said later he had raised the Khashoggi matter in private with Prince Mohammed, describing himself as “extremely angry.”
But he defended himself against the notion he only cozies up toward dictators.
“I get along with a lot of people,” he said. “I also get along with people who would be perceived as being very nice.”
Trump’s worldview isn’t new
The realpolitik nature of Trump’s worldview is not new, but in Japan it came into its sharpest relief as the President darted from meeting to meeting with accused murder masterminds, avowed authoritarians and former spies.
closely watched trade talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Beforehand, Trump himself insisted on a delay to a planned speech by Vice President Mike Pence pegged to the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which was expected to call out China’s troubling human rights and religious freedom record. He was concerned the message might appear discordant with his trade efforts, according to a person familiar with the decision.
Clearing any obstacles toward a trade understanding, Trump found himself with an agreement, albeit one that looked awfully familiar to the understanding he reached with Xi seven months ago, when the two sides agreed to hold off on tariffs as talks proceeded.
Asked after the meeting how it went, the hawkish trade adviser Peter Navarro — an ardent advocate for tariffs who’s irritated more moderate members of Trump’s team — just gave a shrug with both hands.
In Japan, Trump met briefly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who he deemed a “fantastic woman.” And he was frequently approached by French President Emmanuel Macron for some intense words, though they did not meet formally.
Instead, Trump’s highest-profile meetings were reserved for leaders who have tended toward authoritarianism.
A date with Kim?
Trump is hoping to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for a handshake at the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
“I just thought of it this morning,” Trump said of his tweet, framing the message to Kim like an email to some distant cousin who lives in a city he’s passing through. “We’ll be at the area.”
Whether it was as spontaneous as Trump made it out to be is doubtful; he told reporters from The Hill newspaper earlier in the week he planned a visit to the DMZ but the White House asked the outlet to delay publication citing security concerns.
Planned or not, the potential encounter with Kim comes without the back-and-forth negotiations that preceded Trump’s earlier two summits with the leader, both of which have so far failed to rid the country of its nuclear weapons. In the end, the Singapore and Hanoi summits were more about friendship than hard-fought dealmaking anyway, and the DMZ handshake doesn’t appear any different.
Trump, who has sought to imbue his diplomatic efforts with drama and intrigue, was eager to assess the reaction in Osaka.
“Have you seen my tweet?” Trump asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the leaders’ coffee lounge, according to Moon’s office. When he responded affirmatively, Trump gave a thumbs up.
With other leaders, Trump employed hyperbolic congratulations for those who’d recently won elections — just as some of his own early foreign-courters used outsized compliments of his upset victory in their efforts to woo him.
“We’re with a gentleman who had one of the greatest election wins anywhere in the world,” Trump said next to Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right President who’s adopted Trump’s populist (and, in Bolsonaro’s case, misogynistic and homophobic) rhetoric.
“You did indeed have a landslide election. That was a great election,” Trump told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, praising him for “pulling everybody together” despite accusations he’s given more power to a Hindu majority at the expense of Muslims and other minorities.
An eye on 2020
Electioneering is never far from Trump’s mind, particularly as he nears his own reelection battle. He arrived in Japan pledging to remain focused on the work at hand — an intentional attempt to project a presidential air while his rivals were squabbling among themselves back home.
Trump deemed the first night of the Democratic debates “BORING!” in a tweet and later told Germany’s Merkel that, after passing by a television set in the G20 airing the event, he wasn’t impressed. How or why a television was airing a US political debate backstage at the G20 isn’t clear; it’s seems more likely that Trump’s aides arranged for the broadcast to sate his interest in his rivals.
He couldn’t offer election congratulations to the Saudi Crown Prince, who achieved his powerful post through birth and will never face an election. But he found room to praise him nonetheless for the reforms that once captured the world’s attention.
“I think especially what you’ve done for women — I’m seeing what’s happening; it’s like a revolution in a very positive way,” Trump said.
While some new rights for Saudi women have been secured, including the ability of women to obtain drivers’ licenses, strict guardianship laws still restrict the rights of women in the country. Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and senior adviser, seemed more pointed when she provided notice during a session on women’s empowerment that those issues would be on the agenda even with repressive regimes.
“The United States looks forward to working with all of those here today, including Saudi Arabia which will be hosting the next G20 presidency, to advance these important and critical goals,” she said.