The 15 member UN Security Council is visiting Washington, DC. It’s a field trip of sorts from headquarters in New York to the capitol of the host country and largest funder of UN operations around the world.
The trip includes lunch with President Trump, which is an important demonstration that despite some harsh rhetoric and a longstanding split between Russia and the USA over Syria, Trump still views the Security Council as an entity that is worth productively engaging. The meeting comes just a few days after Antionio Guterres had a long meeting with US National Security Advisor HR McMaster, which included a 20 minute conversation between Trump and Guterres. It also comes o the heels of cuts the United States is imposing on the UN Population Fund and other proposed cuts to the UN budget.
Likely on the agenda for today’s lunch: North Korea, Iran, and the Israel-Palestine. But the fact that this field trip is happening at all is as significant as whatever is, or is not, discussed. It shows that despite the harsh tone sometimes emanating from Donald Trump and also from some members of the Security Council, the two see each other as necessary partners.
The trip is also significant for the fact that it is yet another demonstration that US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is emerging as a powerful force in US foreign policy. “Particularly this week, with everything on his plate, that he would take time out and have a conversation with the Security Council is a sign that he’s open to listening to them,” said Nancy Soderberg, a former ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton administration told the New York Times. “It’s frankly surprising. It’s a testament to Nikki Haley’s increasing prominence within the administration.”
The council has other yet-to-be announced meetings with members of congress. I would imagine one of them includes another South Carolinian who just happens to be a key appropriator on a committee that controls US spending at the United Nations.