Officials Blame Poor Planning for Failure of Second Summit Photo

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad -- The parting group photo of the Fifth Summit of Americas never happened.

Why exactly was a mystery, but the collapse followed organizational shortcomings that even the Caribbean host nation acknowledged.

At the Diplomatic Centre where the 34 leaders held their final retreat, several came out Sunday and took their place on name cards taped to the building's front steps.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez had apparently put some thought into the photo. She wore a bright pink dress.

But after about half the leaders had gathered, President Obama was seen shaking the hand of the summit's host, Prime Minister Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago.

Obama was clearly heading out; he had a news conference scheduled at a nearby hotel. Bolivian President Evo Morales had apparently already left. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez was nowhere to be seen.

A member of the host country delegation, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the embarrassing nature of the situation, expressed alarm.

"For some reason they came out bit by bit, piece by piece. One by one. But the photo never happened," the official said.

Manifestations of disorganization at the summit included the host country's failure to provide transcripts of speeches, canceled news conferences and a temporary ban Saturday of news media pools -- in which small groups of journalists attend events and later share their material with colleagues.

In closing remarks Sunday, Manning acknowledged the difficulties.

"It is not easy to put together a conference of this nature," he said. "I am sure that our arrangements have not been perfect."

As for a group photo, one was indeed taken Saturday.

All 34 leaders were in it.