NEW YORK — President Donald Trump is making his debut at the United Nations and taking his complaints about the world body straight to the source.
In his first appearance as president, Trump on Monday was addressing a U.S.-sponsored event on reforming the 193-member organization he has sharply criticized.
As a candidate for president, Trump labeled the U.N. as weak and incompetent, and not a friend of either the United States or Israel. But he has softened his tone since taking office, telling ambassadors from U.N. Security Council member countries at a White House meeting this year that the U.N. has “tremendous potential.”
Trump more recently has praisedover its continued nuclear weapon and ballistic missile tests.
Trump’s big moment comes Tuesday, when he delivers his first address to a session of the U.N. General Assembly. The annual gathering of world leaders will open amid serious concerns about Trump’s priorities, includinghis support for the U.N. and a series of global crises. It will be the first time world leaders will be in the same room and able to take the measure of Trump.
The president and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will speak at Monday’s reform meeting. The U.S. has asked member nations to sign a declaration on U.N. reforms, and more than 100 have done so. Trump wants the U.N. to cut spending and make other operational changes.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said Trump’s criticisms were accurate at the time, but that it is now a “new day” at the U.N. An organization that “talked a lot but didn’t have a lot of action” has given way to a “United Nations that’s action-oriented,” she said, noting the Security Council votes on North Korea this month.
Guterres has proposed a massive package of changes, and Haley said the U.N. is “totally moving toward reform.”
“We said that we needed to get value for our dollar and what we’re finding is the international community is right there with us in support of reform. So it is a new day at the U.N.,” she said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” She said Trump’s pleas had been heard and “what we’ll do is see him respond to that.”
Trump also planned to hold separate talks Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Emmanuel Macron. U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster said the conversations would be wide-ranging, but that…