The U.S. is reportedly considering scaling back its presence at the United Nations General Assembly next month, with aides to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly telling diplomats that the U.S. will have a “toe-print, not a footprint” at the gathering.
Politico reports that the administration wants to reduce the delegation to U.N. headquarters as part of Tillerson’s push to reduce to State Department’s bloated budget, as well as to send a signal about Trump’s intent to scale back America’s commitments abroad.
The Trump administration has taken an often-adversarial approach to the U.N., with Ambassador Nikki Haley repeatedly criticizing the international body on areas in which the administration believes needs improvement. In particular, Haley has zoned in on the body’s anti-Israel bias, as well as long-standing U.S. grievances such as the membership of the controversial Human Rights Council – of which Venezuela, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia are all current members.
Additionally, the administration has floated significant budget cuts to U.S. contributions to the U.N.’s budget, proposals that Haley said have sent “shockwaves” through the U.N.
Officials told Politico that the U.S. delegation, which is usually well over 1,000 strong, will shrink to several hundred. Additionally, many of those in the delegation will only for a day trip. Trump is expected to spend at least three days at the gathering, a longer stint than is usual for presidents.
The outlet says the plans have “added to the gloom of U.S. diplomats already feeling marginalized by the Trump administration.” However, it also cited some former and current officials who conceded that there is room to cut the size of the delegation to an event where negotiations are frequently far from substantial.
“The U.S. delegation alone is a blob consuming the seats in a meeting,” Brett Schaefer, a U.N. expert with the Heritage Foundation, told Politico. “You can accomplish as much with fewer people. Who is going to be at the table matters more than how many people are backing them up.”
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Breitbart News.
Trump is expected to address the General Assembly on September 19.
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY