‘Merkel-Trump visit could have been a lot worse’
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
United States President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Friday.