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WH Travel Report #11
Mark Landler • New York Times
May 25, 2017: 05:07 PM

Dedication Ceremony at NATO Headquarters

Pool was seated on a riser next to the new headquarters building, which resembles a series of interconnected airplane hangars. The leaders of NATO's 28 members are assembling to unveil two mementos that symbolize key elements of the treaty alliance: a chunk of the Berlin Wall and a twisted piece of steel from the north tower of the World Trade Center.

The section of the Wall commemorates the founding principles of NATO during the Cold War. The twisted steel commemorates Article 5, the commitment to mutual defense, invoked after the 9/11 attacks.

At 4:30, the leaders marched slowly down a blue carpet. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, who arrived late, walked toward the group and joined the lineup. Blue tarps were pulled off the two mementos, and the leaders paused in a line for photographs.

NATO's secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, took the podium and explained the symbolism of the Berlin Wall, saying it would remind NATO employees every day of the alliance's purpose "NATO will always defend the value on which our alliance is founded," he said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke next, in German, reflecting on the symbolism of the Wall, not just for the West but for Germans who lived on the eastern side during the Cold War. "With the end of the east-west conflict," she said, "began a new phase, with new challenges."

President Trump spoke next, also introduced by Stoltenberg, who spoke of the Article 5 commitment, particularly as reflected in the Afghanistan campaign. "That is why a strong NATO is good for Europe and good for North America," he said.

Trump's remarks were carried live.

Two notes: during his remarks, which were fiercely critical of NATO members, the assembled leaders stole sidelong glances at each other. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada stared straight ahead.

Also, several of Trump's aides, including Stephen Miller, watched his remarks intently. Also there were Jim Mattis, Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn, and Sean Spicer.

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