(National Review) -- Sitting alongside Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro at the G-20 summit meeting over the weekend in Osaka, Japan, President Trump, in response to a question about his plans to meet with many of the leaders of America’s geopolitical rivals and adversaries in the days ahead, offered this: “Relationships, relationships, it’s all about the relationships.” Over the course of four days in Asia, the president met with allies, foes, and those whose classification with respect to American interests is more difficult to define.
These previously scheduled meetings included a trilateral sit down with Shinzo Abe of Japan and Narendra Modi of India, bilateral discussions with Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China, and conversations with Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. While many of these meetings were criticized for giving legitimacy to “bad actors,” it was an unscheduled meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea that caused the most bewildered reactions.
Despite the fact that Donald Trump has served as commander in chief of the armed forces and the diplomatic corps for two and a half years, the return of the leader-to-leader tête-à-tête as the hallmark of American foreign relations has been something that the media has struggled to accept after eight years of covering a president who disdained the “buddy-buddy” approach: “Personal relationships are not his style,” as one Middle East peace envoy said of Obama in 2015.
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