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Division and protests as NATO leaders gather at Buckingham Palace | UK News

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World leaders have gathered at Buckingham Palace and Downing Street to mark 70 years since the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was formed.

US president Donald Trump, French leader Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among those to mingle with the Queen and Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the two-day summit began in London.

Their smiles for the traditional “family photo” came despite divisions between some of the premiers and protests attended by nurses and doctors concerned by potential risks to the NHS from a future US-UK trade deal.

NHS nurses and doctors protest outside Buckimngham Palace , London, during a "Hands off our NHS" protest against Donald Trump, who is in the capital as Nato leaders gather to mark 70 years of the alliance.
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Hundreds of protesters demonstrated against the NHS featuring in trade talks

Mr Johnson was notably absent from the steps of 10 Downing Street to welcome guests, possibly wary of the optics of being pictured with Mr Trump ahead of the general election next Thursday.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had also been invited to an earlier reception at Buckingham Palace, where it was suggested he could raise his fears about the future of the NHS in trade talks directly with Mr Trump.

But Sky News has been told the pair “did not encounter” each other.

Mr Johnson hosted Ms Merkel, Mr Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks on Syria and terrorism.

They talked about “deepening” their countries’ economic and defence partnerships and agreed “all attacks against civilians in Syria… must stop”, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

The prime minister tried to play peacemaker, but that did not stop Mr Macron insisting he stood by his description of NATO as suffering from strategic “brain death”.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) greets his Luxembourg counterpart Xavier Bettel at Buckingham Palace in central London on December 3, 2019, to attend reception hosted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II ahead of the NATO alliance summit. - NATO leaders gather Tuesday for a summit to mark the alliance's 70th anniversary but with leaders feuding and name-calling over money and strategy, the mood is far from festive. (Photo by Yui Mok / POOL / AFP) (Photo by YUI MOK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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Boris Johnson was notably absent from greeting guests outside Downing Street

Mr Trump sprung to NATO’s defence, calling the comments “very, very nasty”.

Mr Macron then suggested the organisation become less dependent on the US, calling for “more European defence to get … a less unbalanced NATO”.

At the start of the day, the US president vowed to stay out of the general election – before quickly confirming “I’m a fan of Brexit” and saying Mr Johnson was “very capable” and would “do a good job”.

Outside on the streets of London, hundreds of protesters marched with signs saying “no to racism, no to Trump”, “lock him up” and “hands off our NHS”.

The government says the health service will not be on the table when it comes to any trade deal struck with the US.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 3: U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife First Lady of the United States Melania Trump arrive at 10 Downing Street ahead of a NATO reception hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on December 3, 2019 in London, England. France and the UK signed the Treaty of Dunkirk in 1947 in the aftermath of WW2 cementing a mutual alliance in the event of an attack by Germany or the Soviet Union. The Benelux countries joined the Treaty and in April 1949 expanded further to include North America and Canada followed by Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. This new military alliance became the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The organisation grew with Greece and Turkey becoming members and a re-armed West Germany was permitted in 1955. This encouraged the creation of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact delineating the two sides of the Cold War. This year marks the 70th anniversary of NATO. (Photo by Alastair Grant-WPAPool/Getty Images)
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Donald Trump said he would stay out of the election – but endorsed Brexit and Boris Johnson

Analysis by Sam Coates, deputy political editor

It’s been quite an interesting spectacle – why? Because we’ve had some comings and going from today, day one of this two-day summit. But no sign of Boris Johnson.

He’s made world leaders walk the walk up the red carpet to the Number 10 door but he’s not at any point been there to greet them.

It was quite interesting watching Donald Trump having to make his own way in with no one to bounce off in front of that black door.

He just was a world leader like any other – he turned around and went inside.

These events – NATO summits – are big marquee moments for the hosts – so it is extraordinary that we’ve not had any sign of the British PM in public in any of them.

Of course it’s a reflection of the fact we’ve got an election in nine days’ time.

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