What to watch for during Trump’s final day at the UN

What to watch for during Trump’s final day at the UN
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President Trump will turn his focus back to North Korea during his final day at the United Nations.

Trump will have lunch Thursday with the leaders of South Korea and Japan, two of his strongest allies in pressuring Pyongyang to drop its pursuit of nuclear weapons.  

The sit-down comes after the president threatened to annihilate North Korea if it escalates its nuclear threats. 

Here’s what to watch for during Trump’s fourth and final day at the U.N. General Assembly. 

Pressure on South Korea

Trump’s summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in is intended to rally the three nations around a plan to curb North Korea’s weapons program, U.S. officials say.  

But finding unity may prove difficult; Moon and Abe do not see eye-to-eye on how to best confront their rogue neighbor.  

Trump on Tuesday used an aggressive tone toward North Korea during his General Assembly address, threatening the U.S. would “totally destroy” the country. That rhetoric provided a boost for Abe, who has taken a similarly hard-line approach.

“Prioritizing diplomacy and emphasizing the importance of dialogue will not work with North Korea,” Abe wrote this week in The New York Times. “History shows that concerted pressure by the entire international community is essential.”

Those comments may have been directed at Moon, who campaigned on a promise to seek dialogue with North Korea over its nuclear ambitions.

Moon has backed international sanctions against North Korea, but he has also downplayed the possibility of taking military action, saying it could endanger millions of South Koreans. 

There are signs Moon might be warming to Trump and Abe’s approach. After North Korea’s Sept. 3 nuclear test, the South Korean leader said it was not the right time to engage with Kim Jong Un’s government. 

Moon offered muted praise of the president’s Tuesday speech. 

“We view the speech as portraying a firm and specific stance on the key issues regarding keeping peace and safety that the international community and the United Nations are faced with,” his office said in a statement Wednesday.

The war in Afghanistan 

Trump will meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for the first time since announcing his strategy for the conflict there. 

The sit-down comes one day after the Pentagon announced it is sending more than 3,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to aid in the fight against terrorist groups. 

Trump said their presence there would be determined by conditions on the ground, not “arbitrary” timelines. 

Ghani supports Trump’s plan, telling the General Assembly the threat posed by groups like al-Qaeda and the Taliban remains grave. 

"With President Trump's recent announcement of his strategy to counter terror and stabilize South Asia, Afghanistan's enduring partnership with the United States and the international community has been renewed and redirected," he said.  

The meeting could provide a boost for Ghani, who was elected on a pledge to bring stability and security to the war-torn country. Afghan security forces have suffered heavy casualties in its fight against extremist groups. 

"We welcome this strategy, which has now set us on a pathway to certainty," he said

Possible tensions with Turkey

Trump’s final day is stacked with sit-downs with friendly leaders, but his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could get testy. 

Erdoğan, who has won Trump’s praise in the past, this week said the U.S. president apologized for a summertime incident in which the Turkish leader’s bodyguards fought with protesters on a Washington, D.C., street. 

The White House quickly responded that Trump — who isn’t a fan of apologies — did no such thing. 

Authorities in Washington have filed charges against several Turkish guards who were involved in the street fight.