Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

President Trump is on the hunt for foreign policy wins he can showcase ahead of November's election — even if that means getting creative.

Why it matters: Trump's aides are working to recast him as "a true peacemaker," as national security adviser Robert O'Brien put it on Friday. “It’s happened in the Balkans, it’s happened in the Middle East, and we have more to come.”

Be smart: The grand bargains Trump has sought with North Korea, Iran and China remain far out of reach.

  • More events like Friday's Oval Office ceremony could be in store between now and Nov. 3.

Setting the scene: Trump was flanked by the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo to sign what he heralded as “a truly historic commitment” to "economic normalization."

  • In a surprise twist, Serbia also said it would move its embassy to Jerusalem, while Kosovo agreed to recognize Israel (Trump described that as a "great day for peace with Middle East," though Kosovo is in Europe and has never fought with Israel).
  • The Serbia-Kosovo deal addressed some sticking points in relations, but a long-sought breakthrough proved elusive after Serbia made clear it would not recognize Kosovo's independence.

Between the lines: “There is substance in this agreement, but it didn’t deserve an Oval Office signing with President Trump,” emails Ryan Scherba, editor of Balkan Insider. “Even after reading through it multiple times, it really seems all over the place.”

What’s next: “It’s time for the president to start harvesting some of the accomplishments that he spent years building the foundation in order to achieve,” Jared Kushner said on Friday.

  • Leaders from Israel and the UAE are expected to gather at the White House the week of Sept. 13 to sign another normalization deal, Axios’ Barak Ravid reports.
  • Kushner and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both recently visited several Arab capitals and hope to be able to announce another deal on recognition of Israel soon, perhaps with Bahrain or Sudan.
  • It's unclear if those efforts will bear fruit before the ceremony, but in any case, the White House plans to invite Arab ambassadors to attend as a signal of support, Barak reports.
  • Israel-UAE talks are ongoing, and the rush is on to get as much agreed to as possible before heading to the White House.

What we're watching: Nuclear proliferation is "the most important thing” facing the world, Trump declared on Friday.

  • He's had a string of calls with Vladimir Putin on arms control, and his administration recently dropped its insistence that China take part in any nuclear talks in order to pursue a framework agreement with Russia.
  • The impetus for talks is the expiration in February of the Obama-era New START. But Trump clearly wants a separate agreement before then, and perhaps before November.
  • In a recent interview with Axios, arms control envoy Marshall Billingslea expressed caution about the prospects of a deal. If one is reached, it could involve a summit between Trump and Putin.

Go deeper

The top Republicans who aren't voting for Trump in 2020

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Pence's former lead staffer on the White House coronavirus task force announced that she plans to vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 election, while accusing President Trump of costing lives with his pandemic response.

Why it matters: Olivia Troye, who described herself as a life-long Republican, joins other prominent Republicans who have publicly said they will either not vote for Trump's re-election this November or will back Biden.

Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.