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Can Trade Threats Be Turned to Truce? Trump Meets Chinese and German Leaders

Category: Diplomatic Relations,Politics

“The fact that we lost a president who truly was a wonderful person, a wonderful man, a great man — it really puts a damper on it, to be honest with you,” Mr. Trump said.

He turned to Ms. Merkel and asked her to share a recollection of a visit she made to the White House with then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl, when Mr. Bush was president. She referred to him as “one of the fathers of the German unification,” and said, “we will never forget that.”

Even before Mr. Bush’s death, the meeting was shadowed by Mr. Trump’s legal troubles back home — his former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his dealings with Russia on behalf of Mr. Trump — and by his truncated schedule while in Buenos Aires.

This was the kind of diplomatic conclave at which Mr. Bush, a globe-trotting foreign-policy president, would have thrived. Mr. Trump’s less comfortable experience here attested to how the American role in the world has changed during the Trump presidency.

Mr. Trump also skipped a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, another strongman whom he has drawn close but who has fallen into disrepute. The C.I.A. has concluded the crown prince played a role in the killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October.

Mr. Trump’s stubborn defense of Prince Mohammed has caused tensions with Turkey, which has shared an audio recording of the attack on Mr. Khashoggi with American officials and demanded a fuller accounting from the Saudis of what happened.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump met with Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but the White House closed the session to even the brief picture-taking opportunity that usually accompanies these meetings.

At a dinner for the leaders on Friday night, the White House said Mr. Trump spoke informally with Mr. Putin. There were photos of the president and first lady Melania Trump seated at the long table, separated from Mr. Putin by Mr. Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan.


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