Trump announces 2nd North Korea-US meeting

Yet, during SOTU speech, he seems surprisingly abstemious regarding other foreign policy achievements

Photo: EPA US President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address

A brand new Donald Trump spoke to the country on Tuesday night on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington. During his annual State of the Union speech, the world saw a man who didn't use his usually aggressive rhetoric and did not bring the Republican conference to its feet chanting “Build that wall”. On the contrary, the US president delivered an insecure, low-energy address, with a punchline that any American politician could have used: “Let's work together and compromise, so we could make America truly safe.”

But that should come as no surprise to anyone. For a president whose party received a strong thumping in the 2018 midterms, and whose ratings are going lower and lower, the plea for political unity definitely makes sense. To gain support, however, Trump has to be careful in his words from now on.

Thus, it is not quite surprising that he chose to only tiptoe around sensitive topics such as the construction of a barrier at the southern border and the US foreign policy strategy. A lot of people were expecting to hear Trump renewing the threat to shut down the government, declaring a state of emergency or even claiming unilateral authority to build a wall without congressional authorisation. Instead, he signalled a willingness to surrender on his signature issue, presenting a vague plan that seems like something even his Democratic opponents could easily agree to. He even shocked Democrats by claiming he wants to see foreigners coming into the US since “legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways”, and that it's the illegal immigration he's only fighting against.

Trump is also obviously aware that throughout the last year his foreign policy has exacerbated many of the problems he's trying to solve, claimed credit for progress to which it is not entitled, and alienated key allies along the way - from Asia to Europe and from Latin America to the Middle East. So, in his 82-minute-long SOTU address, the president vaguely mentioned his policies of withdrawal from multilateral agreements like NAFTA, the INF treaty and the Iran nuclear deal, as well as the planned force reductions in Syria and Afghanistan. Instead, he used his speech to reassure that his office will continue its “historic push for peace on the Korean peninsula”.

“Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months,” Trump said, adding that if he had not been elected president of the US, his country “would right now be in a major war with North Korea”.

He also used his address to the nation to finally announce he will meet North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un on 27-28 February in Vietnam. Something that has been rumoured for months and could be used to potentially assure Washington's allies that the US' foreign policy is on the right track.

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