Can U.N. Diplomats Close a Deal With Trump?

Can U.N. Diplomats Close a Deal With Trump?
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a Security Council meeting on Syria, New York, April 7, 2017 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

Busy and serious people know only two types of working lunch. There are pleasant but time-consuming lunches they would prefer to skip, and then there are tedious ones they desperately wish to avoid.

Today, ambassadors serving on the U.N. Security Council will endure a third category of business luncheon: One that will at best be eventful but nerve-rattling, and at worst could hasten the collapse of international diplomacy. The council is visiting Washington, where it will lunch with U.S. President Donald Trump. What could possibly go wrong?

The U.S. has held the rotating presidency of the Security Council in April, and Ambassador Nikki Haley has pulled off a coup by getting her colleagues down to D.C. to meet Trump. It is not unusual for new American administrations to make a big deal of their first turn as council president. To mark the occasion in September 2009, then-President Barack Obama met with other world leaders on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York to talk about nuclear proliferation. But whereas Obama instinctively valued the U.N., Trump has persistently trashed the institution. Haley has walked a fine line between attacking the U.N. and reassuring other ambassadors that she wants to work with them through the organization.

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