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Trump to address UN amid threats posed by North Korea, terrorism

President Donald Trump speaks during the United Nations

President Donald Trump speaks during the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, in Manhattan. Credit: AP / Evan Vucci

President Donald Trump’s debut address Tuesday morning before the United Nations General Assembly will stress the need for sovereignty in securing peace amid the threats posed by North Korea and others, the White House said.

Trump offered a preview Monday with a nod to the responsibility he said heads of state have to their citizens.

“To honor the people of our nations, we must ensure that no one and no member state shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden,” Trump said at a UN event on reform.

The president also held bilateral meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Emmanuel Macron, with whom he discussed the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement as unfair to the United States, according to a U.S. State Department official.

Trump has several meetings scheduled this week at the UN with fellow world leaders, but his major message will be delivered Tuesday from international diplomacy’s largest stage.

His remarks will condemn the “North Korean menace” and Iran for their nuclear ambitions while also discussing the threat of terrorism at large, according to a senior White House official.

He will discuss why countries must apply their own “America First” approach, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“He’s not interested in nation-building, not interested in creating democracies through the use of the U.S. military — but is interested in creating stability in the world,” the official said. “And that’s accomplished through countries that are more secure, that are more prosperous and countries that are more sovereign.”

The president has repeatedly criticized the United Nations.

In March 2016, he said: “The United Nations is not a friend of democracy, it’s not a friend to freedom, it’s not a friend even to the United States of America.”

On Monday, he referenced his “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan when asked about what he seeks to convey to the multilateral institution.

“I think the main message is ‘make the United Nations great.’ Not again. ‘Make the United Nations great, ’ ” he said. “Such tremendous potential, and I think we’ll be able to do this.”

The White House official said that Trump’s speech Tuesday shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of the United Nations, but that the president won’t “appeal to a top-down model of global bureaucracy,” but rather “a model that’s from the nation-state up.”

Brian Hook, director of policy planning for the State Department, said Trump and Macron discussed the Paris agreement, from which Trump has said the United States will withdraw.

“The president focused repeatedly in their meeting on fairness,” Hook said of Trump, adding that he believes both the Paris deal and the Iran nuclear pact struck by the administration of former President Barack Obama were poorly negotiated.

National Economic Council director Gary Cohn at a breakfast with energy officials said the United States is withdrawing from the Paris deal “unless we can re-engage on terms more favorable to the United States,” according to the White House.

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