‘Merkel-Trump visit could have been a lot worse’

New Straits Times - - World -

BERLIN: A strong re­la­tion­ship with the United States is a bedrock of Ger­man for­eign pol­icy, so when Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel met Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day, Ger­man jour­nal­ists and an­a­lysts scru­ti­nised their body lan­guage and the tone of their re­marks for clues about how they might work to­gether.

“Not warm, but not dis­tant,” wrote the left-lean­ing news­pa­per Sud­deutsche Zeitung in its on­line edi­tion on Satur­day.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Ger­many’s mass-cir­cu­la­tion daily, Bild, wrote of the re­la­tion­ship that is the cor­ner­stone of the North At­lantic Treaty Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Nato) al­liance and vi­tal to global se­cu­rity.

The ini­tial re­ac­tion from Merkel’s spokesman, St­ef­fen Seib­ert, em­pha­sised the pos­i­tives. Seib­ert wel­comed Trump’s sup­port of ef­forts to re­solve the crisis in Ukraine and the pres­i­dent’s con­fir­ma­tion of the im­por­tance of Nato.

Seib­ert also reaf­firmed Ger­many’s com­mit­ment to con­trib­ute two per cent of its gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) to the al­liance by 2024, as pledged dur­ing last year’s Nato sum­mit meet­ing.

But that did not seem to be enough for Trump, who in­sisted on Twit­ter early Satur­day that Ger­many owed the al­liance “vast sums of money”.

“De­spite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meet­ing with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel,” he wrote.

“Nev­er­the­less, Ger­many owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the pow­er­ful, and very ex­pen­sive, de­fence it pro­vides to Ger­many!”

Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased by the al­liance, Ger­many contributed 1.2 per cent of its GDP last year, com­pared with 3.6 per cent for the US, but as se­cu­rity ex­perts have pointed out, con­tri­bu­tions to the al­liance do not au­to­mat­i­cally trans­late into more money be­ing sent to Wash­ing­ton. NYT

AFP PIC

United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel in the Oval Of­fice of the White House in Wash­ing­ton on Fri­day.

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