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President Trump cancels news conference and calls Trudeau ‘two-faced.’
President Trump abandoned plans on Wednesday for a news conference that was scheduled to be held after the NATO meeting, saying that he had already spent ample time talking to the media.
Mr. Trump made the announcement on Twitter after calling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada “two-faced” while speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Earlier, a brief video had surfaced that showed a small group of NATO leaders at Buckingham Palace reception expressing dismay about Mr. Trump’s behavior.
“Honestly, with Trudeau, he’s a very nice guy,” Mr. Trump said when asked about the Canadian leader, in comments that were among the starkest to date of how the relationship between the two North American neighbors has weakened since Mr. Trump took office.
“The truth is, I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2 percent and he’s not very happy about it,” said Mr. Trump, who spoke to reporters at length twice on Tuesday, referring to Canada’s financial contributions to NATO.
The video was posted overnight, and in it Mr. Trudeau is heard commiserating with President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain about Mr. Trump’s conduct on the first day of the two-day NATO gathering. Princess Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands are also standing with the group.
In the video, Mr. Johnson turns to the French leader with a grin and asks, “Is that why you were late?” It was unclear exactly what preceded the question.
Mr. Trudeau then says to the group, “He was late because he takes a 40-minute news conference at the top,” an apparent reference to one of Mr. Trump’s long exchanges with reporters on Tuesday.
“You just watch his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Mr. Trudeau says at another point. Mr. Macron cannot be heard, but is seen speaking and gesturing animatedly.
The world leaders, who appear to be unaware that they are being recorded, do not mention Mr. Trump by name, potentially giving them a mote of deniability about appearing to mock a powerful but unpredictable partner.
Mr. Trudeau, speaking during a press briefing after the meeting, said the relationship between the United States and Canada remained strong. “I have a very good relationship with President Trump and his team,” he said when asked about the video.
Mr. Johnson was also asked during a press briefing on Wednesday whether the group had been taking about Mr. Trump.
“That’s complete nonsense, and I don’t know where that has come from,” he said brusquely before moving on to the next question. Pressed again on the issue, he added: “I really don’t know what is being referred to there.”
Mr. Trudeau is one of a handful of leaders who have seen their initial cordial relationships with Mr. Trump grow cold, including Mr. Macron, who held an particularly tense news conference with his American counterpart on Tuesday.
Stoltenberg calls for unity but makes a nod to the tensions.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, spoke before the meetings on Wednesday, acknowledging the external and internal pressures facing the alliance but insisting that it was agile and strong enough to deal with them.
Speaking outside the Grove Hotel in Watford, England, Mr. Stoltenberg laid out an ambitious agenda for the leaders from North America and Europe: the international fight against terrorism, arms control, combating Russia, and, for the first time, the rise of China.
Mr. Stoltenberg said that China’s growing global power offered “both opportunities but also challenges,” citing a buildup in military capabilities as a looming threat.
But NATO is not only facing emerging superpowers outside the alliance: It also has deep internal divisions and disputes. Those tensions were on full display on Tuesday during an exchange between President Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France, who laid out dueling visions for the alliance.
Asked about what he made of earlier comments from Mr. Macron, who said last month that NATO was suffering from “brain death,” Mr. Stoltenberg vigorously defended the 70-year-old institution.
“That’s not the case,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. “NATO is agile. NATO is active. NATO is adapting. NATO is the most effective alliance in history.”
Mr. Stoltenberg said that differences among the heads of the alliance’s member states were nothing new, citing disputes over the Suez crisis of 1956 and more recently the war in Iraq.
“There’s always been differences,” he said. “What we have proven and what we also show today is NATO is able to overcome these differences.”
Speaking again later in the day, Mr. Stoltenberg said the group of 29 nations had reaffirmed their commitment to collective defense and made way for “unprecedented burden sharing,” despite differences among member states.
“Politicians they are very often criticized for being very good on rhetoric and bad on substance. In NATO, it’s in some ways the opposite,” he said. “The rhetoric is not always excellent, but the substance is perfect.”
A Trump-Macron exchange set a tense tone.
Widespread anxiety prevailed in the run-up to NATO’s celebration of its 70th anniversary that President Trump, whose criticism of the alliance as obsolete is well-known, would upend the meeting with a surprise demand or an insult of an ally, as he has done before.
But Mr. Trump found himself in the unusual position of defending NATO after an uproar created by President Emmanuel Macron of France, who told The Economist last month that NATO was suffering “brain death” because of what he described as an absence of American leadership under Mr. Trump.
In a meeting on Tuesday morning with NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, Mr. Trump called Mr. Macron’s comments “very insulting” and a “very, very nasty statement essentially to 28 countries.”
Later, in a meeting with Mr. Macron at the American ambassador’s residence in London, the French leader put Mr. Trump on the defensive not only about his vision for NATO, but also about his handling of a military conflict involving Turkey, the quandary about what to do with captured foreign Islamic State fighters in Syria and a trade dispute between France and the United States.
Mr. Macron was unapologetic. In a Twitter posting later, he acknowledged that his comments had provoked reactions, but said that “we need to be clear about the foundations of NATO. Tomorrow, I will defend the interests of France and Europe.”
As he arrived for Wednesday’s meeting, Mr. Macron was again asked about his “brain death” comment, and stood by it. “In fact it allowed us to raise some crucial debates,” he said.
“I think it was our responsibility to raise ambiguities that could be harmful, and to tackle a real strategic debate,” he added. “It has started, I am satisfied.”
Trump and Johnson met, and security was the focus.
The White House said President Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the “security of our telecommunication networks” and the need to “guard against untrusted providers,” on Tuesday evening, shedding a little more light on their closed-door meeting at 10 Downing Street.
The United States has put heavy pressure on Britain to block the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from gaining access to its 5G network because it fears that China will use such access to spy on Western countries.
Mr. Johnson postponed a decision on Huawei until after the general election, in part to avoid opening a rift with the Trump administration at a time when he hopes to begin negotiating a trade agreement with Mr. Trump if, and when, Britain leaves the European Union.
The White House said the leaders also talked about trade, though it offered no details. Mr. Johnson has urged Mr. Trump to steer clear of politically charged topics during his two-day visit, and the president has so far largely complied.
The White House readout fell back on the time-tested diplomatic formulation that the leaders “again reaffirmed the importance of the Special Relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Trump took an uncharacteristically reserved approach upon his arrival for the meeting, tweeting just once before the gathering and offering friendly words for Mr. Johnson.
Mr. Johnson’s political future is on the line in a parliamentary election on Dec. 12, and in the run-up to the vote, the Conservative prime minister has sought to keep the president at arm’s length.
In past visits, Mr. Trump has made his hosts uncomfortable with no-holds-barred assessments of the state of British politics, and he has both praised Mr. Johnson and disparaged his main opponent, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
But this time, he has shown a degree of restraint, refraining from commenting, in news conferences or on Twitter, about the election or the competitors.
Johnson has defied Trump on taxing tech companies.
President Trump, whose administration has threatened to raise tariffs on French goods in retaliation for France’s tax on tech companies like Google and Amazon, will find a similar target for his ire in Britain.
Britain is scheduled to begin imposing its own tax on the revenues of technology companies in April.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, campaigning in Salisbury on Tuesday ahead of the country’s general election next week, said he deplored Mr. Trump’s threats over trade and maintained that he would push for freer markets. He also appeared to want to push on with Britain’s plans.
“I do think we need to look at the operations of the big digital companies and the huge revenues they make in the U.K. and the amount of tax they pay,” Mr. Johnson said, according to local media reports. “We need to sort that out. They need to make a fairer contribution.”
Companies that run social media platforms, internet marketplaces and search engines will face a 2 percent tax rate on sales made in Britain. Currently they pay tax only on the profits they record in the country.
When the new tax was announced in October 2018, the British government estimated that it would raise 1.5 billion pounds, or more than $1.9 billion, over four years.
The tax was aimed squarely at global technology companies, said Philip Hammond, the chancellor of the Exchequer at the time. “It is only right that these global giants with profitable businesses in the U.K. pay their fair share towards supporting our public services,” he said.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes Britain, France and the United States, has been working to reach a common position on taxing technology companies and other multinational businesses.
Trump plugged Pompeo — to run for Senate from Kansas.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s primary role at the meeting of NATO heads of state is to support President Trump. As it happened, Mr. Trump threw a little support to the whisper campaign surrounding a possible run by Mr. Pompeo next year for the United States Senate from Kansas.
Mr. Pompeo, a former congressman from Kansas, has repeatedly said that he would remain at the helm of the State Department as long as Mr. Trump wanted. On Tuesday, the president left the door wide open for Mr. Pompeo to exit.
“He’s a tremendous guy, doing a tremendous job,” Mr. Trump told reporters at Winfield House, the official residence of the United States ambassador to Britain.
With Mr. Pompeo standing nearby, the president continued: “If I thought we were going to lose that seat — because we shouldn’t lose that seat, it’s a great state, it’s a state that I won overwhelmingly, as you know, we shouldn’t lose that state — then I would sit down and talk to Mike.”
Republicans have held both of the Senate seats from Kansas since 1932. But last year’s election of a Democratic governor — a victory delivered by swing voters in Kansas City’s suburbs — and a potentially divisive Republican primary have raised the possibility of a contested Senate race there in 2020. Mr. Pompeo has until June 1 to declare his candidacy.
Mr. Pompeo has otherwise kept a low profile at the NATO events. He met on Tuesday with the British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, for nearly 40 minutes in what American officials described as a discussion about Iran, 5G networks and the potential for a “robust” bilateral trade agreement if Britain leaves the European Union. Mr. Pompeo also expressed his condolences over last week’s fatal stabbings near London Bridge, which the authorities have described as a terrorist attack.
Conspicuously absent from the State Department’s description of the meeting was mention of Harry Dunn, a 19-year-old Briton who died in August when his motorbike collided with a car that was believed to have been driven by the wife of an American diplomat, on the wrong side of the road. Mr. Dunn’s parents are suing the Trump administration, which has so far refused to extradite the suspected driver, Anne Sacoolas, who has claimed diplomatic immunity.
Following the NATO meeting, Mr. Pompeo will travel to Lisbon, Portugal, where he plans to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
A photo of the NATO leaders was dissected on social media.
On Tuesday night, Queen Elizabeth II hosted NATO leaders at Buckingham Palace, where she posed for a photo with the group. The royal family shared the photo from its official Twitter account, President Trump promptly retweeted it, but social media users were quick to criticize the optics.
Commenters pointed out the lack of racial diversity and the fact that of the 33 people the photo, only seven were women, including the queen, who struck a diminutive figure at the center of the frame.
Some accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain of crowding the queen with his knees spread wide, while others drew comparisons between his and President Trump’s body language.
The laid-back posture of Milos Zeman, the president of the Czech Republic, his legs crossed and face tilted to the side, also left many amused.
Zuzana Caputova, the president of Slovakia, had to peek out from behind the taller Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis of Greece, another element criticized on Twitter. Others had sartorial advice for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada to ditch the brown shoes, which some saw as a poor choice for a formal gathering.
The failure of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to face the camera, was noted by many, as was the decision to position Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, directly behind the queen.
Reporting was contributed by Katie Rogers, Lara Jakes, Annie Karni, Megan Specia, Amie Tsang, Iliana Magra and Mark Landler.