President Trump couldn't stop talking about the red carpets, military parades, and fancy dinners that were lavished upon him during state visits on his recent tour of Asia. "Magnificent," he declared at one point. But Trump has yet to reciprocate, reports the AP, making him the first president in almost a century to close his first year in office without welcoming a visiting counterpart with similar trappings. Trump spoke dismissively of state dinners as a candidate, when he panned President Obama's decision to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping in a 2015 state visit. "I would not be throwing (Xi) a dinner," Trump said at the time. "I would get him a McDonald's hamburger and say we've got to get down to work." Last month, though, it was Xi's turn to literally roll out the red carpet. The Chinese leader poured on the pageantry as he welcomed Trump to Beijing on what was billed as a "state visit, plus."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there is no "singular reason" why Trump hasn't extended a state visit invitation yet. Trump and Xi met at Trump's Florida estate in April, and Trump treated Xi to a full dinner—not the aforementioned burger—and what Trump described as "the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake." Trump has also met at the White House, sometimes over lunch as well as abroad, with many of his foreign counterparts. But nothing compares to a state visit, which are reserved for when the US wants to put on its "best face," says a former liaison between the White House and visiting foreign dignitaries. "It's a really important arrow in a president's quiver when it comes to the diplomatic nicety side of his work." Trump's decision to not extend a state visit invitation could be partly because his first year was a chaotic one; a state visit is also a massive undertaking and Trump has been running the government with a bare-bones staff.