World leaders attending the Nato summit have been caught smirking conspiratorially while apparently discussing Donald Trump – with Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron seeming to pass comment on the US leader’s idiosyncratic approach to international diplomacy.
The jokey and exasperated-sounding exchange, caught at Buckingham Palace as the participants seemed unaware the camera was on them, included Mr Johnson, the French president, Dutch PM Mark Rutte, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Princess Anne.
Mr Johnson can be seen turning to Mr Macron with a smirk, asking “Is that why you were late?” – only for Canada’s premier to interject: “He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top”, in an apparent reference to Mr Trump, as Mr Macron had just come from a joint press conference with the US president.
Mr Macron then appears animated – telling the five “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, he announced ...” However, as his back is turned to the camera, the rest of his comments are inaudible.
Canada’s prime minister was later heard adding: “You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor!” Princess Anne also appears to join in, although she cannot be heard in the footage.
While Mr Trump is not mentioned by name, the conversation appears to centre on the President’s lengthy statements to the press just beforehand, as well as his unorthodox approach to diplomacy.
US congressman Brendan Boyle said of the video: “It’s not the least bit surprising. I’ve personally met with several high-ranking government officials from other countries who laugh about what it’s like to meet with Donald Trump.
“They’re quite open about what a complete joke they consider Trump.”
Among the Trump comments that may have irked his Nato counterparts was the assertion that the majority of Isis fighters in Syria had come from Europe – a claim he made while sitting next to the French leader.
Tension appeared to rise as Mr Trump claimed the burden of securing them had been fully assumed by the US, with the president asking Mr Macron “Would you like some nice Isis fighters? I could give them to you. You could take every one you want.”
In a rapid rebuttal, Mr Macron replied that, while Isis fighters from Europe are “a tiny minority of the overall problem”, the majority of those detained in Syria are not “mostly from Europe” as Mr Trump has previously claimed.
The Nato summit will continue today with heads of government invited to a luxury hotel in Watford amid a background of disagreement over issues ranging from weaponising space, to Turkey’s engagement in Syria, to the alliance’s response to China.
The 70th birthday of the organisation has been marked with infighting and clashing personalities – following on from Mr Macron’s highly publicised charge that it was “brain dead” and Europe should instead start thinking of itself as a “geopolitical power” to ensure that it remained “in control” of its destiny.
While the accusation was itself driven by Mr Trump’s repeated criticism of the alliance, the US president responded by saying the comments were nasty” and “very insulting” – while threatening to disengage and cut contributions to the bloc.
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