Nato leaders professed unity on Wednesday at a summit near London but a spat over off-the-cuff chit chat at a royal reception rattled their show of solidarity.
US President Donald Trump branded the leader of America’s northern neighbour two-faced after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared to gossip about Trump in comments caught on camera and microphone.
Trudeau was seen standing in a huddle with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Britain’s Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II at Tuesday evening’s Buckingham Palace reception for Nato leaders.
After Johnson asked Macron “Is that why you were late?” Trudeau could be heard saying Macron was late “because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top.” Trudeau confirmed that was a reference to Trump’s long and unscheduled question-and-answer session with journalists earlier on Tuesday.
Trudeau also said: “You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.” He explained on Wednesday that was in reference to Trump’s decision to hold the next Group of Seven meeting at Camp David, the presidential retreat.
Footage of the palace reception was recorded by a pool camera. The clip was posted online by Canadian broadcaster CBC and has been viewed more than 5 million times.
.@JustinTrudeau, @EmmanuelMacron, @BorisJohnson and other VIPs shared a few words at a Buckingham Palace reception Tuesday. No one mentions @realDonaldTrump by name, but they seem to be discussing his lengthy impromptu press conferences from earlier in the day. (Video: Host Pool) pic.twitter.com/dVgj48rpOP
— Power & Politics (@PnPCBC) December 3, 2019
Speaking Wednesday at the summit venue in Watford, outside London, Trump said Trudeau was likely upset that the US president had broached the fact that Canada falls short of the Nato target of spending 2% of its gross domestic product on defense.
“Well, he’s two-faced,” Trump told reporters. “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 per cent and I guess he’s not very happy about it.”