President Donald Trump has been keeping things short and quick on most of his trips abroad lately. He is set to depart later on Thursday for a G20 summit meeting in Argentina. The commander in chief is expected to spend about 48 hours there where he will engage in eight high-level meetings with other global leaders. Such meetings are seen as very important for foreign relations but ever since he took office, Trump has made it his personal priority to minimize the amount of time he spends abroad.
This couldn’t be clearer in this week’s G20 summit. The president, due to the time limitations, has morphed in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi into a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The meetings were initially planned to be bilateral and were supposed to happen separately. But it looks like Trump doesn’t see why he cannot engage both leaders at the same time.
People who are close to the president do note that he is not a big fan of long abroad visits. Although he made a number of long travels during the first year of his presidency, Trump has taken a more reserved role in his second year staying abroad only when necessary. Just recently, the President canceled a scheduled stop in Colombia. The White House said at the time that the reason for the cancellation was due to scheduling conflicts although a closer look at his calendar showed that he was actually quite free. Later on it emerged that Trump just wanted to get home as soon as he could.
Another trip scheduled for South America early this year was also called off. The president said that he needed time to focus on the crisis in Syria after reports emerged that regime forces had targeted civilians with chemical weapons. The trip was never rescheduled. In addition to this, after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, Trump left earlier than expected. His recent trip to Paris lasted only a weekend too. It does look like there’s a pattern here. Whether the president feels he would be much more valuable working from home or just misses his own bed is still unknown.
But the latter explanation could be more plausible. Even before his presidency, Trump has always been reluctant to sleep in strange places and this hasn’t changed after taking over as president. For instance, for the last two years, he has spent nights on properties he doesn’t own very few times. White House aides who commented on this matter revealed that the president feels much more comfortable playing the role of the host instead of the guest. One aide actually said that the president simply relishes the idea of having global leaders visit him at his office. During his first year as president, Trump only made 4 foreign visits. This falls short compared to former president Barack Obama who made 10 visits to foreign lands in his first year. Besides, in 2018 the president’s focus was largely inward, especially during the intense midterms.