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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

All the 'best deals' in foreign affairs are still undone

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on July 30. He lashed out at China for what he said is its unwillingness to buy American agricultural products. Credit: Bloomberg/Tom Brenner

Heading into the presidential race, a key question looms in foreign affairs. Are great deals with other nations really coming — or are hints to that effect just empty chatter?

Three months ago, President Donald Trump declared that the United States and China were "getting close to a very historic, monumental deal" on trade.

On Friday, however, Trump said he was "not ready" to make such a deal and suggested a meeting with Beijing set for next month could be called off. Tariffs, tensions, and currency conflicts seem only to mount.

The United States remains involved in Afghanistan amid talk of withdrawal. Last week a Taliban official was quoted as saying that differences were resolved in peace talks and insurgents would guarantee a cutoff of ties with other extremist groups.

By midweek, however, a Taliban car bomb reportedly aimed at Afghan security forces exploded in a busy Kabul neighborhood, killing 14 and wounding 145, mostly civilians.

On Friday Trump said as he has before that he received a "beautiful" letter from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Trump  told reporters that the two men could meet again in the future to discuss denuclearization.

But their three previous summits produced nothing substantial. Kim as usual has been issuing threatening statements and continues testing ballistic missiles, worrying neighbors South Korea and Japan.

Last year, Trump withdrew from a three-year-old Iran denuclearization deal against advice from many American and European experts. At the time the president told aides and foreign leaders that maximizing pressure against the repressive theocracy in Tehran would ultimately enable his administration to win a better agreement.

So far the status quo consists of threats and hostile maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz where Iran interferes with British oil commerce. Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani has looked to show that his government is resuming certain nuclear activity.

The tension is expected to be discussed at the upcoming G7 summit. Tangentially, Trump publicly warned French President Emmanuel Macron against sending “mixed signals” to Tehran over possible negotiations. 

Jean-Yves Le Drian, France's foreign minister, replied Friday, "We are working to allow a de-escalation of tensions — and we need no one’s permission to do this.”

U.S. goals regarding Venezuela remain unfulfilled. Late last week, President Nicolas Maduro suspended mediated negotiations with his chaotic country’s opposition leaders after Trump tightened sanctions. The United States no longer recognizes Maduro as head of the nation, but Russia and China have backed him.

Trump's trade team agreed last November with Canada and Mexico on mutually acceptable changes in the unpopular North American Free Trade Agreement. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been meeting with congressional leaders on tweaking the newer deal, which still requires ratification.

An "up" side to the so-called bromance between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to be the promise of improved relations between their countries. Instead, friction continues.

Recently tensions rose with Turkish President Tayyip Erodgan after he decided to buy S-400 missiles from the Putin regime instead of U.S. Patriot missiles.

And an Israeli-Palestinian "deal of the century," assigned early on to the portfolio of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, remains invisible.

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