The US President opened with his oft-repeated line that “in just two years my administration has accomplished more than almost any other administration in the history of our country”, a claim that prompted a ripple of murmurs and guffaws from the diplomats present.
Trump was forced to pause and, to his credit, recovered by saying: “Didn’t expect that reaction but that’s OK.”
The President was addressing a crowd containing 84 heads of state and 44 heads of government.
Shortly after the incident a Trump tweet from 2014 resurfaced in which he said: “We need a President who isn’t a laughing stock to the entire world.”
As for the rest of the speech, Trump took aim at Iran, calling it a “corrupt dictatorship” that is plundering the Iranian people to pay for aggression abroad.
“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction,” Trump told the annual gathering.
“They do not respect their neighbours or borders or the sovereign rights of nations.”
Trump compared US relations with Iran to what he called improved ties with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, praising him for halting nuclear and missile tests and returning some US remains from the 1950s Korean War.
Trump had called Kim a “rocket man” bent on nuclear destruction in his UN speech last year.
Trump used his speech to call for international trade reforms and insist that his main objective as president is to protect American sovereignty. He called on OPEC to stop raising oil prices and criticised China’s trade practices.