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Trump Again Emphasizes 'America First' Agenda At U.N. General Assembly


After Speaker Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry, President Trump tweeted, they never even saw the transcript of the call, and, in all caps, presidential harassment. Earlier in the day, he addressed the U.N. General Assembly in New York. And in that speech, Trump did not mention Ukraine or that country's conflict with Russia. Instead, the president took aim at Iran, China and globalism. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: President Trump brought his domestic agenda to the world stage, touting his tariffs on China, calling for better trade deals and presenting his America First approach as a model for others.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Wise leaders always put the good of their own people and their own country first. The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots.

KELEMEN: He's vowing to shake up international trade, saying the U.S. was wrong to assume that China would become a better actor when it joined the World Trade Organization.


TRUMP: It has embraced an economic model dependent on massive market barriers, heavy state subsidies, currency manipulation, product dumping, forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property.

KELEMEN: There was little reaction in the room. A Chinese diplomat sat stony-faced during the speech. When the president called Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro a Cuban puppet and railed against socialism, the camera turned to a woman sitting at Venezuela's desk, reading a book. Trump sounded fairly subdued throughout the nearly 40-minute address. On Iran, the president defended his decision to pull out of a nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions. He encouraged other nations to follow him on that.


TRUMP: All nations have a duty to act. No responsible government should subsidize Iran's bloodlust. As long as Iran's menacing behavior continues, sanctions will not be lifted. They will be tightened.

KELEMEN: The Trump administration blames Iran for the recent attack on Saudi oil facilities. Iran denies that, but the U.K., France and Germany have joined the U.S. in pointing fingers at Iran. They say it's time for Iran to return to the negotiating table to talk about regional security concerns and bolster the agreement that limited Iran's nuclear program. French President Emmanuel Macron met separately with Iran's president and President Trump and warned the U.N. General Assembly through an interpreter that we are living on the edge of a cliff.


PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON: (Through interpreter) We have a risk of a serious conflict based on a miscalculation or a disproportionate response.

KELEMEN: That was also the message from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who says the world can't afford armed conflict in the Persian Gulf.


ANTONIO GUTERRES: The recent attack on Saudi Arabia oil facilities was totally unacceptable. In a context where a minor miscalculation can lead to a major confrontation, we must do everything possible to push for reason and restraint.

KELEMEN: Guterres used his speech at the U.N. to raise concerns about climate change, a topic President Trump didn't even mention. He also raised concerns about the rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China.


GUTERRES: I fear the possibility of a great fracture, the world splitting in two, with the two largest economies on Earth creating two separate and competing worlds, each with their own dominant, currency, trade and financial rules, their own Internet and artificial intelligence capacities and their own zero-sum geopolitical and military strategies.

KELEMEN: His call for strong multilateral institutions came just before President Trump took the stage to tell world leaders to embrace nationalism.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the United Nations.


Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.