>> Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will have plenty to chew on, when they meet on Thursday. Trade, North Korea, the South China Sea. But one topic we might not hear as much about at Mar-a-Lago, human rights. I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington, where events this week show that Trump is not making human rights a priority as he meets with leaders from the Middle East and Asia.
That's a historic shift for the United States, where presidents from both parties have traditionally emphasized spreading democracy abroad. Trump by contrast, is apparently placing a higher priority on protecting American interests, rather than spreading American values. Trump meeting earlier this week with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was not welcome at The White House under President Obama.
The former general having jailed thousands of political prisoners, and overseeing a brutal crackdown after taking power in a military coup. Trump overlooking that in the bid to work more closely with Egypt, in fighting Islamist terror groups. Trump also lifting a ban on arm sales to Bahrain, overcoming long-standing objections to that country's human rights record.
And ending an Obama-era block on some weapon sales to the Saudis, despite protests over Riyadh's bombing campaign in Yemen. Trump has also shown a willingness to overlook Russian President Vladimir Putin's record, including accusations of political killings as he seeks closer ties to Moscow. Trump's not the only president to tread cautiously with China.
Obama pressed China on human rights on a few occasions. But he only addressed the subject in passing, during his last meeting with Xi in September, reflecting that country's growing power to reject US demands on the issue. As for this week's meeting with China, the White House saying Trump will bring up human rights in private when he meets with Xi, rather than pressuring him in public.
Critics say that this behind-the-scenes approach could seed the moral high ground, giving other countries greater latitude to put human rights on the back burner.