President Trump has disparaged the military alliance known as NATO frequently over the course of his presidency, and this week was no exception. But at this year’s summit outside London, Trump and world leaders exchanged unusually direct criticism at a gathering typically intended as a display of unity and strength.
Here’s a closer look at Trump’s interactions with foreign leaders over the course of this year’s summit.
Trump and Macron butt heads
Trump began his first of two days at the NATO conference by harshly rebuking French president Emmanuel Macron for recently saying NATO was experiencing “brain death” as a result of diminished US leadership in the alliance under Trump.
Trump called Macron’s comments “very disrespectful.”
“I think that’s insulting to a lot of different forces,” Trump said. “You just can’t go around making statements like that about NATO.”
As the two spoke to the press together Tuesday afternoon, Trump asked Macron if he wanted to take “some nice ISIS fighters” and Macron replied in English, “let’s get serious.”
Trump replied, “this is why he is the greatest politician, because that was one of the best non-answers of all time.”
World leaders appear to gossip about Trump during reception
At a Buckingham Palace reception with members of the royal family Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was seen standing in a huddle with Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Britain’s Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II. Trudeau could be heard gossiping about Trump, mocking his extended Q&As with reporters and saying Trump staffers “jaws drop[ped] to the floor,” apparently at Trump’s decision to hold an international summit at one of his resorts.
Trump calls Trudeau ‘two-faced’ in response to the video
Trump did not take kindly to Trudeau’s comments.
“Well he’s two-faced,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “And honestly, with Trudeau he’s a nice guy, I find him to be a very nice guy but you know the truth is that I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2 percent and I guess he’s not very happy about it.’’
Trump was referring to his criticism of Canada’s defense spending, which lags behind the United States as a share of gross domestic product.
According to the Associated Press, Trudeau spoke briefly to Trump at the beginning of the summit Wednesday and downplayed the incident to reporters.
Trump cancelled a planned press conference on Wednesday and instead flew back to Washington at the conclusion of his meetings.
Trump holds lunch for so-called ‘2 percenters’ at summit
Before he cut his trip short, Trump held a lunch Wednesday for countries who are meeting the goal of spending two percent of their GDP on defense. Trump has long pushed for other members of NATO to increase their defense spending, including at this week’s summit.
“We have unfortunately a large number that haven’t met the goal,” Trump said of other leaders at the summit.
Representatives from Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and the United Kingdom attended the lunch, according to the White House.
U.K.’s Boris Johnson reportedly avoids one-on-one meeting with Trump
Johnson, who faces a general election in just over a week, reportedly avoided meeting one-on-one with Trump during the NATO summit.
NBC News reported that Johnson’s staff notified the White House before Trump arrived in London that Johnson would not meet with Trump given the election. Trump is highly unpopular in the United Kingdom.
Asked by reporters about the dodge, Johnson denied he was avoiding being photographed with Trump.
“I’m going to be photographed with every possible leader of NATO. We’re having a very successful meeting,” he said, according to the Washington Post.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.