Trump to meet Ukraine leader at UN General Assembly

Trump to meet Ukraine leader at UN General Assembly
© The White House

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE is scheduled to meet with several foreign leaders at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The relationship between Trump and Zelensky has attracted scrutiny over the past 24 hours as a result of a widening controversy over an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that is said to involve a conversation Trump had with Ukraine.

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Asked about the plans for the bilateral meeting, a senior administration official said Friday that Trump intends to congratulate Zelensky on his election victory and his efforts to reform corruption in Ukraine.

“President Trump is going to focus on again congratulating President Zelensky on his election victory and the incredible energy and success that Zelensky has put forward in implementing reform and anti-corruption efforts,” the senior administration official said.

The official also said that the two leaders would pursue other areas of cooperation, including in energy, trade and further reform of the Ukrainian economy, and that Trump plans to raise what he views as Chinese predatory economic activity against Ukraine’s intellectual property.

The whistleblower complaint, first acknowledged by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats seek leverage for trial Pence's office denies Schiff request to declassify call with Ukrainian leader Comey, Schiff to be interviewed by Fox's Chris Wallace MORE (D-Calif.) last week, has drawn increased scrutiny after The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the complaint involved Trump making a “promise” to a foreign leader. The Post and The New York Times have since reported that the conversation involved Ukraine, though the details have not been made public.

Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, has refused to share details about it with Congress.

Trump on Friday downplayed the controversy, saying his conversations with foreign leaders are “always appropriate” and calling the whistleblower complaint “partisan.” He also denied knowing the conversation in question.

Trump is scheduled to attend the U.N. General Assembly Monday through Wednesday of next week. He is scheduled to meet with a number of foreign leaders on the sidelines of the assembly, including Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Polish President Andrzej Duda, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Trump is scheduled to meet with Zelensky as well as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday, according to officials.

Trump will host an event on the global call to protect religious freedom on Monday. He will deliver an address at the General Assembly Tuesday morning, followed by a luncheon with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and a diplomatic reception later than evening. He will participate in a meeting on Venezuela Wednesday morning.

Officials declined to preview the president’s remarks but said broadly that he plans to “affirm America’s leadership role in the rules-based international system and the need to work collectively within the global community to address global challenges” at the summit.

“The president will highlight American values and underscore that America is a positive alternative to authoritarianism,” a senior administration official said, noting that Trump would emphasize the United States’ commitment to upholding democracy and protecting religious freedom.