President Trump is heading back to Washington after canceling his last scheduled news conference following the NATO alliance meeting in London.
The abrupt exit is highlighting Trump’s role as a stick in the eye at the 70th-anniversary gathering of the military alliance.
“I want to take the 2 percenters to lunch,” Trump said, crediting certain NATO members for ponying up at the end of the summit spent holding other member’s feet to the fire.
“These are countries that have met the goal of 2%. We have unfortunately a large number that haven’t met the goal. Some are very close and they will be,” the President said.
The free lunch for the representatives of the eight-member countries came in the wake of a tense few days as the disruptor-in-chief barreled through meetings with world leaders.
Before leaving, German Chancellor Angela Merkel interrupted Trump during a bilateral meeting.
“Can I have one word?” Merkel asked, breaking into a presidential tirade over trade imbalances between the US and the European Union.
Earlier in the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron doubled down on his assessment that NATO is “brain dead.”
“My statements created some reactions and shake a little bit, but I do stand by,” said Macron.
Macron traded jabs of his own with President Trump over ISIS fighters in Syria.
“Would you like some nice ISIS fighters?” Trump asked Macron, leaning over during a meeting to add, “I could give ’em to you. You could take everyone you want.”
“Let’s be serious,” Macron responded
The President’s tongue in cheek offer is paired with real threats to alter foreign trade deals to bring delinquent NATO members to task.
In a one-on-one meeting with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Trump struck a softer tone.
Trump told Trudeau that Canada was “slightly delinquent,” adding that “they’ll be ok.”
As Trump held court for reporters, cameras caught the slighted world leaders, including Trudeau on camera. Waiting for the President and drinking wine, the group gossiped over a late attendee.
Trump later responded, calling Trudeau “two-faced,” a possible reference to a controversial 2001 photo of Trudeau wearing blackface.
For all the cage-rattling, the President received a warm welcome at Buckingham Palace from Queen Elizabeth II.
Trump, who has threatened to pull the US out of NATO, put himself at the center of the military alliance this week
“We’re a very important player,” he said. “Without us NATO is not the same thing.”
One issue looming over the NATO summit has been Turkey’s role in the alliance. Turkey says it will oppose NATO’s defense plan for the Baltics and Poland unless the body recognizes the Kurdish Y.P.G as terrorists. That’s a direct conflict with the US and other NATO members, who consider the Kurds allies in the fight against the Islamic State or ISIS terrorists.