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The Latest: Greece and Turkey note ‘differences’

LONDON – The Latest on the NATO summit near London (all times local):

7:05 p.m.

Greece’s new prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, says differences between Greece and neighbor Turkey “will continue to exist.”

Mitsotakis said he had “open talks” with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit and that both “noted disagreements.”

The two NATO allies have disputes over undersea exploitation rights, among others, arising from decades of regional rivalry.

Athens is particularly vexed at Turkish attempts to encroach on Greek sovereignty, notably last week’s agreement between Turkey and Libya delineating maritime borders in the Mediterranean Sea.

Mitsotakis brought the matter up during talks with other NATO leaders.

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5:05 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron described the NATO summit as “positive” and “constructive” — despite earlier remarks in which he had lamented the “brain death” of the military alliance.

Macron said in a news conference Wednesday that he stood by his controversial comments. He said they ignited a debate at NATO about important strategic issues, and that “when there’s ice, ice-breaker ships are needed.”

But Macron says it’s too soon to say all allies agree on the alliance’s future priorities. He says there are still disagreements to be worked out in the coming months. Macron had previously criticized Turkey’s intervention in Syria and its lack of cooperation within the NATO alliance.

He also reiterated his call for a return to dialogue with Russia to enhance confidence and security on the continent.

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4:40 p.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says security and intelligence sharing will be the main factors in deciding whether to let Chinese tech company Huawei build the country’s 5G networks.

When asked if he had decided not to let Huawei into the U.K.’s next generation mobile networks, Johnson said he “didn’t want this country to be unnecessarily hostile to investment from overseas.”

But he added: “On the other, we cannot prejudice our vital national security interests, nor can we prejudice our ability to cooperate with our other Five Eyes security partners,” which includes the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Johnson had reportedly put off a decision on Huawei until after the Dec. 12 election.

The U.S. has been lobbying European allies to shun Huawei over concerns it could be used by China’s government for cyberespionage, which Huawei denies. The company said Wednesday it is “confident the U.K. government will continue to take an objective, evidence-based approach to cybersecurity.”

U.S. officials have warned they may have to rethink intelligence sharing with allies using Huawei gear.

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2:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump has hosted a lunch for the nine countries in the 29-member NATO alliance that spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defense.

Trump has been pushing NATO members to increase their defense spending ever since he took office.

"Lunch is on me," Trump said as he sat down with representatives of the United States, Britain, Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania and Romania.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg praised Trump for highlighting the issue and said European allies and Canada will add $130 billion to their defense budgets by the end of 2020.

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2:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he has canceled a news conference meant for the end of the NATO summit and will return to Washington early.

Trump says he will meet with a couple more leaders first on the sidelines of the summit near London. He cites his extensive comments to journalists Tuesday and Wednesday.

Had Trump gone ahead with the news conference, he likely would have faced questions while the House Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing in Washington into the impeachment inquiry against him.

House Democrats are investigating whether Trump abused his power as president by urging a foreign leader to open an investigation into one of Trump’s political rivals.

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2:30 p.m.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pleaded ignorance when questioned about footage of a group of NATO leaders apparently gossiping about U.S. President Donald Trump’s behavior.

When asked whether the leaders were discussing Trump in the footage taken at Buckingham Palace, Johnson told reporters on Wednesday that “I really don’t know what is being referred to there.”

The footage recorded during a reception Tuesday evening showed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau standing with Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Britain’s Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II.

Trump has called Trudeau “two-faced” after he was overheard appearing to gossip about the U.S. leader.

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2 p.m.

NATO leaders say they’ve agreed to set up a committee of experts to analyze political decision-making after French President Emmanuel Macron lamented the “brain death” of the military alliance.

After a summit near London, the leaders agreed in a communique Wednesday to “a forwarding-looking reflection process” to be led by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Germany and France suggested ways to address the issue after Macron complained about President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of northern Syria. Turkey saw the move as an opening to invade. Neither country consulted its NATO allies.

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1:50 p.m.

Whatever friction exists between President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel wasn't on display as they expressed optimism about trade talks between the U.S. and European Union.

Merkel says there is a good basis for resuming trade talks because a new team of EU leaders has taken office.

Trump says the trade deal with the EU is one of the more "difficult deals" for the U.S., but that meetings have been set up and he believes something will be worked out for everyone. Trump says the U.S. just wants "fairness."

But Trump continued to needle Germany for not increasing its defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product, a 2024 goal for NATO members. Merkel says Germany's defense spending will rise to 1.4% next year and hit 2% in the early 2030s.

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1:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump is calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “two-faced” after he was overheard appearing to gossip about Trump.

Trump tells reporters he believes Trudeau was upset that he broached the fact that Canada falls short of the NATO target of spending 2% of its GDP on defense.

In footage recorded during a reception in London at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday night, Trudeau was seen standing 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.

Trudeau could be heard making what appeared to be a reference to Trump’s long and unscheduled question-and-answer session with journalists.

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1:30 p.m.

NATO members have reaffirmed their commitment to collective defense at a summit seeking to smooth over cracks in the trans-Atlantic military alliance.

After meeting near London, leaders of the 29 nations affirmed in a declaration that “our solemn commitment as enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty that an attack against one Ally shall be considered an attack against us all.”

NATO member Turkey had threatened not to endorse a plan to bolster the defense of the Baltic states neighboring Russia and Poland after other NATO members criticized Ankara’s military operation in Syria.

But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that “we stand together, all for one and one for all. Our commitment to article 5, the collective defense clause of our alliance, is ironclad.”

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1:15 p.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump has met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit.

The meeting comes as European leaders, led by French President Emmanuel Macron, are pushing the alliance to get tougher on Turkey after its October invasion of Syria and its purchase of Russian surface-to-air missiles.

Trump has resisted some of those efforts to pressure Erdogan — a point of tension exposed in a feisty meeting Tuesday with the French leader.

Trump hosted Erdogan at the White House last month, despite bipartisan calls that he cancel it in the wake of Turkey’s assault on Kurdish forces in Syria that were allies with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State group.

The White House confirmed the meeting after Erdogan’s office posted a photo of the two leaders on social media. The White House said they discussed "the importance of Turkey fulfilling its alliance commitments" as well as security and economic issues.

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10:20 a.m.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that Russia will not get involved in an arms race with NATO, even if the alliance increases its military spending.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that European allies and Canada have added $130 billion to their defense spending since 2016.

Peskov said Wednesday that NATO’s increased military spending “reinforces” the Kremlin’s concerns.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that NATO’s expansion and beefing up of its military infrastructure near Russia’s borders threatens the nation’s security.

Peskov said, however, that Russia will not get involved “in an arms race or in a spending race” with NATO as it would be detrimental to the country’s economy.

“Putin repeatedly pointed out that we are operating in a different way,” he said.

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10:05 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron is refusing to apologize for saying that NATO is suffering “brain death” and says his remarks could help jumpstart talks at the alliance about important strategic issues.

Arriving Wednesday at a NATO summit near London, Macron said his interview with the Economist magazine, which alarmed some allies, has “allowed us to raise fundamental debates.”

Chief among them, Macron says, is “how to build sustainable peace in Europe.”

He says NATO “debates should be about other things than budgets and finances.”

Macron says leaders’ “responsibility is to highlight ambiguities that could be damaging and to launch a real strategic debate.”

In the interview last month, Macron said NATO was suffering due to a lack of U.S. leadership and through ally Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria. U.S. President Donald Trump described the remarks as “very, very nasty.”

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9:45 a.m.

NATO leaders on Wednesday played down their differences and insisted that they remain united over security issues and determined to defend each other despite a series of spats between the presidents of some of the alliance’s biggest member countries.

Ahead of a summit near London, French President Emmanuel Macron had lamented the “brain death” of NATO due in part to what he called a lack of U.S. leadership. President Donald Trump branded his remarks as “very disrespectful.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested that Macron himself is “brain dead.”

The infighting is mostly due to Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria. Macron has complained that Trump pulled U.S. troops out of the region without warning his NATO allies. Turkey saw the move as a greenlight to send its troops in.

“NATO is agile, NATO is active, NATO is adapting,” NATO-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said when asked by reporters whether the world’s biggest security alliance is brain dead.

“As long as we are able to deliver substance... then NATO proves once again that we are able to respond to a shifting security landscape, and that’s the best way to also provide unity of this alliance,” he said before chairing the summit at a luxury hotel and golf resort on the outskirts of London.