Saturday

26th May 2018

Trump and Merkel flirt with better relations

  • Trump and Merkel in the White House earlier this month (Photo: bundeskanzlerin.de)

Donald Trump has congratulated Angela Merkel on a regional poll, while Merkel invited his daughter to Berlin as the US and Germany mend ties.

The US president’s spokesman told press in Washington on Monday (27 March) that Trump had phoned Merkel to “congratulate” her on her party’s “success in recent elections”.

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They spoke after the German chancellor’s CDU party won a bellwether election in the region of Saarland on Sunday with 41 percent of votes, whereas the main anti-EU party, the AfD, got just 6 percent.

Trump himself told press, also on Monday, that Merkel had invited his daughter, Ivanka Trump, to go to a summit on women business chiefs, the W20, in Berlin in April.

“The chancellor of Germany … has asked Ivanka to go to Germany, and she'll be working on similar [women’s] issues with chancellor Merkel. So that will be very exciting for you [Ivanka]. That's going to happen very soon. It's a very great honour,” he said next to his daughter at a press briefing in the White House.

The friendly gestures come after an awkward Trump-Merkel meeting in the US capital earlier this month.

Trump declined to shake Merkel’s hand and joked that she had been spied upon by the former US administration.

He also lambasted EU states for not paying their share of Nato collective defence.

In earlier comments after taking office, Trump had accused Merkel of manipulating the value of the euro and attacked her for letting in too many migrants.

He had also said that more member states would quit the EU and that Nato was “obsolete”, using the kind of rhetoric normally heard from German anti-EU parties or from Russia.

Key to transatlantic unity

US-German relations are key to transatlantic unity at a time of increased international instability.

But a British newspaper reported over the weekend that Trump, when he met Merkel in Washington, had gone further than just comments on Nato.

The Sunday Times said that he had handed the chancellor a mock invoice for what she owed the US since 2002, due to Germany’s shortfall on a Nato pledge to spend 2 percent of GDP on defence.

The Sunday Times said the bill added interest and would have amounted to more than €300 billion.

It also quoted a German government minister, who asked to stay anonymous, as having said: “The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations”.

Both the White House and the German chancellery denied the report on Monday.

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in Berlin: “Reports that president Trump had presented the federal chancellor with a kind of bill with a concrete billion sum are not true”.

Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer, who has been caught lying to press on several occasions, also said: “No, this is not true.”

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