German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s arrives today in Washington, where she will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump for the first time.
For years, Merkel – a trained physicist – had been President Barack Obama’s closest worldwide partner, with the two sharing a strong rapport and a similar deliberative approach. Then he will lead a roundtable discussion on vocational training with US and German business leaders. They are scheduled to hold a joint press conference around 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT.) The meeting is consequential for both sides.
In her remarks, Merkel also referred to past tensions with Trump, as she seeks to build a new relationship with the third U.S. president she has encountered as German Chancellor.
“All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television”, Mr Trump said, referring to analyst Andrew Napolitano.
As a presidential candidate, Mr Trump criticised Ms Merkel for allowing hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany.
Trump has also called on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations to pay more for their defense needs. “You are not welcome here!”, the tabloid-style newspaper said on its front page.
It’s there where the leaders will have an opportunity to describe their vision for cooperation on issues such as Russian Federation policy, where Merkel has struck a hard line over incursions into Ukraine and the Kremlin’s support for Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad. The president was slightly smiling when he said what he’s got in common with Merkel. Says he and Merkel have that in common.
During the news conference, Trump was also asked about his claims that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had ordered wiretaps of Trump’s NY offices during the election campaign.
Aides said she’s closely studied past Trump interviews and speeches in preparation for Friday’s meeting.
Merkel, who is standing for a fourth term in Germany’s September elections, takes a list of issues to the White House: Russia, Syria, Ukraine, Nato as well as trade – the USA is Germany’s third largest trading partner, after China and France.
That could be tricky for Merkel, particularly in an election year when defense spending is unlikely to be a priority for voters, but there could be an opportunity for her to play to Trump’s professed love of a deal.
“We said nothing”, Trump said when asked about Napolitano’s claims regarding the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Only the USA and four other members now reach the benchmark of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense.
Top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence Committee have all said they have seen no evidence. Many live in Southern states that Trump won in the USA election.
Instead, the officials cast the meeting as a chance to build a personal relationship and to have a positive interaction on a range of issues, particularly on defense, security and economics.