NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump on Thursday made for his first trip to New York City since taking office.
The president landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport around 6:15 p.m. Thursday before heading to a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and a black tie event aboard the USS Intrepid.
“It’s really a special privilege to be back on the Intrepid, addressing Australian and American heroes,” Trump said.
The president poked fun at reports that his relationship with the prime minister got off to a rocky start a few months ago, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.
“They said we had a rough phone call. We really didn’t have a rough phone call, did we?” he said. “We had a very nice phone call — got a little bit testy, a little testy, but it’s OK.”
Trump was originally scheduled to arrive in the city around 3 p.m. and was set to meet with Turnbull at the Peninsula Hotel near Trump Tower, where rows and rows of barricades lined Fifth Avenue earlier Thursday from 50th to 58th Street. But they ended up not going to the Peninsula.
Trump hasn’t set foot in the city since leaving on Jan. 19 to head to Washington to be inaugurated into office the following day.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, this has been Trump’s longest absence from his hometown.
“Welcome back, we missed ya,” one man told CBS2’s Magdalena Doris. “You’ve been gone too long.”
The agenda for the leaders’ get-together included North Korea’s aggressive testing of ballistic missiles, security and economic issues, as well as an agreement Turnbull struck with then-President Barack Obama to take up to 1,250 mostly Muslim refugees off of Australia’s hands and resettle them in the United States.
The agreement was a source of friction when Trump and Turnbull spoke by telephone shortly after Trump took office. The conversation made headlines around the world and Trump later tweeted about the “dumb deal.”
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump was looking forward to the meeting and “showcasing the enduring bonds, deep friendship and close alliance the United States has with Australia.”
The ties between the allies were reinforced during the Battle of the Coral Sea, when both countries’ warships and fighter planes battled the Japanese from May 4-8, 1942, forcing the Japanese navy to retreat for the first time in the war.
Trump and Turnbull marked the anniversary of that battle with speeches at the dinner aboard the USS Intrepid. The decommissioned aircraft carrier fought in World War II and is a floating museum on the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan. The event was hosted by the American Australian Association.
The timing of Trump’s arrival was tough, as it coincided with the end of the evening rush, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
“We’re trying to make it home before all this started. When Trump is in town, it’s tough, it’s tough, because I drive in and out,” driver Yvette Pilarte said, getting onto the West Side Highway.
Drivers should expect residual delays and road closures in both directions between 34th and 57th streets.
Protesters also greeted the president outside the USS Intrepid.
“Handling large crowds is something the NYPD does very well and we don’t anticipate any issues,” said O’Neill. “We have to be fluid, flexible.”
Police later said there were no arrests or incidents stemming from the protests.
The president then traveled to his country home at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminister, New Jersey, now teeming with Secret Service.
During the campaign, Trump would fly thousands of miles back to New York City to sleep in his own bed, leaving the impression that he would make frequent trips home after he became president.
But Trump said in an interview last week that he so far has avoided returning to the city of his birth because the trips are expensive for the government and would inconvenience New Yorkers.
“I hate to see the New Yorkers with streets closed,” Trump told Fox News. He has received some criticism for spending about half of his weekends as president at his waterfront estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
Trump’s wife, Melania, and son Barron, live at the Tower most of the time while the 11-year-old finishes the school year.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)