“It appears that he left out the anti-U. N. rhetoric he was so fond of during the campaign and instead recognized the potential of the U.N. to be involved in solving global crises and with an important role to play,” said Rachel Stohl, a scholar at the Stimson Center, a nonpartisan research organization. By Tuesday, she said, “I would expect him to play to his base a bit and call for greater action with regards to Iran and North Korea.”
While he has made a few international trips as president, this is Mr. Trump’s first experience with such a varying collection of world leaders — with vastly different issues — all at once. His first overseas trip started off smoothly with largely on-message stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel, only to generate a furor later in the week when he went to Europe and refused to explicitly endorse NATO’s commitment to mutual defense.
“The president is not one to pull punches,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, a human rights group, and a former State Department official under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Ms. Nossel said Mr. Trump seemed to be “at an inflection point with his political base” and might feel pressure to lash out. “I hope he resists the temptation to treat the U.N. as a punching bag in order to please conservatives as they witness him waver on other hot-button issues,” she said.
The president started his day meeting with counterparts about overhauling the United Nations. He complained that its spending and staff had grown enormously but that “we are not seeing the results in line with this investment.”
Still, his criticism was mild compared with the bombast of the past. As recently as December, he dismissed the United Nations as “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time” and as president he had yet to meet with Mr. Guterres.