NATO summit 2019: Disputes overshadow anniversary meeting
Trump's timekeeping appears to be a topic of conversation throughout this summit.
Footage from last night's reception is also drawing attention on Wednesday morning as it seems to show several foreign leaders discussing the President's lengthy press conferences on Tuesday.
In a 25-second clip, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte appear to share a laugh over Trump's behavior.
Microphones nearby only pick up snippets of the conversations, which starts with Johnson asking Macron why he was late.
Macron's response is inaudible but he can be seen nodding as Trudeau says, "He was late because he takes a ... 40-minute press conference at the top."
While Trump was not mentioned by name, he is the only leader to have held a presser for that length of time, according to CNN's Special Events team covering the summit.
CNN has reached out to representatives for all the leaders who were part of the conversation.
When asked if the leaders were talking about Trump, a spokesperson for Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told CNN on Wednesday they do not comment on closed door sessions. A Elysee Palace spokeswoman declined to comment, adding, "This video does not say anything special.” Meanwhile, a spokesman for Trudeau told CNN they have no comment at this time.
The White House has also declined to comment.
None of the leaders seemed to be aware that the conversation was being recorded, although they were talking openly and loudly enough to be heard by others. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation first reported on the footage.
In a brief statement before the start of a meeting of the North Atlantic Council on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pressed NATO leaders to remain united amid tensions in the alliance.
He said he was "delighted to welcome everybody here to the United Kingdom to celebrate the 70th anniversary of NATO" and that seven decades on "we are rock solid in our commitments to NATO and to the giant shield of solidarity that now protects 29 countries and nearly a billion people."
Johnson spoke of the principle at the heart of the alliance saying "that for as long as we stand together, no one can hope to defeat us -- and therefore no one will start a war.
"This essential principle is enshrined in article five of the North Atlantic treaty: that if any one of us is attacked, all of us will go to their defense," he added.
Then, perhaps taking inspiration from the famous line from "The Three Musketeers" by French author Alexandre Dumas, Johnson continued, "If NATO has a motto, it is 'one for all, and all for one.'"
The UK PM also said, "As friends and allies, we must never shy away from discussing new realities, particularly NATO's response to emerging threats like hybrid warfare and disruptive technologies, including space and cyber. At this council, we have the opportunity to strengthen the unity of purpose that has made NATO the greatest and most successful alliance in history."
President Donald Trump arrived for the handshake with UK PM Boris Johnson and NATO Sec. Gen. Jens Stoltenberg at 9:50 a.m. (3:50 a.m. ET). The President’s arrival was delayed, leaving Johnson and Stoltenberg to wait in front of the press for several minutes after the rest of the leaders had completed their handshakes.
“How long do you think?” Johnson was heard asking an aide as they awaited Trump. The UK Prime Minister and NATO leader stood on the stage in front of the cameras, talking quietly among themselves.
“How we doing, folks?” Johnson asked at one point.
Trump arrived eventually and shook hands with Johnson, then Stoltenberg, and posed between the two for a photo. He initially exited the stage on the wrong side but Johnson pointed him in the right direction.
Handshakes have now concluded. NATO leaders are now on stage posing for a group picture.
Speaking of Prince Andrew, Donald Trump was asked about the royal during his impromptu press conference on Tuesday morning.
"I don't know Prince Andrew, but it's a tough story," Trump said on the sidelines of the NATO summit. "I don't know him, no."
His remarks raised eyebrows given the pair have been photographed together on a number of occasions including most recently during the President's state visit to the UK in June.
As NATO's leaders continue to make their way into the Grove Hotel for a second day of meetings, let's catch up on last night's glitzy reception at Buckingham Palace.
Upon arrival, the NATO leaders were greeted by Queen Elizabeth II, her son Charles and his wife, Camilla.
Several members of the royal family were in attendance at the event including Princess Anne, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
Notable absences: However, not all royals were at the reception. Prince Andrew, who took a central role during the Trump's visit over the summer, did not appear as he has stepped away from royal duties in the wake of a scandal over his friendship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Prince William is away this week on official visits to Kuwait and Oman. And lastly, Prince Harry and Meghan were not at the reception as they are taking some "family time" off from royal duties.
Donald Trump has arrived at the NATO summit site, which is being hosted at The Grove in Hertfordshire.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and White House social media director Dan Scavino were spotted traveling with the President Wednesday morning.
Trump will take part in an official welcome ceremony shortly, followed by a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Later he’ll have lunch with leaders of the nations the White House is calling the NATO two-percenters, or those nations who have met the threshold set by Trump for 2% of their nation’s GDP to be spent on defense spending.
Trump also has meetings with leaders of Denmark and Italy.
Before heading back to the US, he is scheduled to hold a news conference to close out the summit.
When he arrived this morning, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked about reports that he was avoiding being photographed with Donald Trump.
The NATO summit comes just over a week before the UK election. Trump's unpredictability is causing jitters among members of Johnson's Conservative Party, who fear a full-throated endorsement from Trump would damage the Prime Minister's election prospects.
This was Johnson's response:
“I am going to be photographed with every possible leader of NATO and we are having a very successful meeting."
Johnson added that two had held a "very good meeting."
"We discussed the future of NATO, we discussed what is going on in Syria and various other security matters," Johnson continued.
Trump said Tuesday that he wouldn't comment on the upcoming vote as he didn't want "to complicate it."
That being said, almost in the same breath, Trump did add that he was a fan of Brexit, and that he thought Johnson "is very capable and he will do a good job.”
Leaders have started to arrive for day two of the NATO summit, which is being held at the Grove hotel in Watford, northeast London on Wednesday morning.
Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, laid out the general agenda for NATO leaders for Wednesday’s session in brief remarks in the early morning:
- Fighting terrorism
- Arms control
- The relationship with Russia
- The rise of China
“We will also recognize the progress allies are making when it comes to burden sharing.”