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In Davos, Trump Meeting With World Leaders


President Trump has arrived in Davos, Switzerland, meeting some members of the global elite at the World Economic Forum. He's already met today with leaders of some U.S. allies. And when we talk of the global elite, we, of course, must include NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley, who is traveling with the president, who's in Davos himself.


INSKEEP: Well, you're elite to us anyway, Scott.

HORSLEY: Thank you, Steve - a temporary adjunct.

INSKEEP: What was it - there we go. There we go. What's it like to be there?

HORSLEY: Steve, there's a lot of money, and there's a lot of snow. Davos is a beautiful Alpine ski resort. We flew over the mountains by helicopter to get here this morning. And, you know, I was just eyeing some of the scheduled sessions on the agenda, everything from preventing global pandemics to protecting elephants. This is the mecca of globalization where the movers and shakers come each winter. And into this environment comes Donald Trump to promote his "America First" agenda.

INSKEEP: After having spent a lot of time attacking what he calls globalists. Now, we mentioned some of the leaders of allied nations that the president is meeting with. One of them is Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel. We have a little bit of their press conference to play here. They were talking at this point about the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Let's listen to President Trump.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They have to respect the process, also. And they have to respect the fact that the U.S. has given tremendous support to them over the years in terms of monetary support and other support. So we'll see what happens with the peace process, but respect has to be shown to the U.S. or we're just not going any further.

INSKEEP: Scott Horsley, what do you hear there?

HORSLEY: Well, this is the first time the president has met with Prime Minister Netanyahu since the U.S. announced that it is recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Both Trump and Netanyahu called that a historic decision. They also both insisted, rather curiously, that it will advance rather than set back the Middle East peace process.

Trump, also, you heard there speaking very critically of the Palestinian leadership and their refusal to meet with Vice President Pence during his recent trip to the region - the administration's already put tens of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians on hold. And Trump says he will continue to use American funding as a bargaining chip in hopes of bringing Palestinians to the table.

INSKEEP: Doesn't this emphasize, though, that the United States has stepped back somewhat from its old role as what was seen as an honest broker or an effort to be an honest broker between Israelis and Palestinians?

HORSLEY: Certainly, the Obama administration tried to be the - very neutral in that relationship in a way that often got it cast as being antagonistic to Israel. Now, Trump is not trying for neutrality here. He is obviously aligned with Benjamin Netanyahu, and he was very critical of the Palestinian leadership.

INSKEEP: Now, what did the president have to say when he met with the prime minister of Britain, Theresa May?

HORSLEY: This was much less of a mutual admiration society meeting than his session with Netanyahu. There has obviously been some tension between these two leaders - for example, in their handling of terrorism. Earlier this month, the president canceled his planned trip to London. He said he was unhappy with the location of a new U.S. embassy there, though there have also been reports that Trump is trying to avoid protests if he does travel to the U.K.

He and May downplayed those differences today. They stressed their special relationship that the countries have long enjoyed. Trump said the U.S. and the U.K. are joined at the hip when it comes to military cooperation, and he also said they'll be talking about bilateral trade. That's something the U.K. is eager to see as it begins its withdrawal from the European Union, a move that, in a way, foreshadowed Trump's own economic nationalism.

INSKEEP: And that could be a very, very long discussion, indeed. Scott, thanks very much, really appreciate it.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you, Steve.

INSKEEP: NPR's Scott Horsley is in Davos, Switzerland, where President Trump has arrived and where he delivers a big speech tomorrow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.