German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump put on a display of warmth and friendship during a White House meeting despite differences over trade and Iran that have sparked tensions between the two allies.
After their last White House meeting drew attention when the two leaders did not shake hands in the Oval Office, Mr Trump made a point of doing just that, twice, while congratulating the German chancellor on her election win.
“We have a really great relationship, and we actually have had a great relationship right from the beginning, but some people didn’t understand that,” Mr Trump said, calling Ms Merkel a “very extraordinary woman.”
Ms Merkel acknowledged that it took a while to form a government after heavy election losses to the far-right, but she said it was important to her to make her first trip out of Europe since establishing her administration to Washington.
The cautious Ms Merkel has not established a particularly strong personal rapport with the brash Mr Trump, and the mood of her one-day working visit contrasted sharply with the tactile “bromance” between Mr Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Chemistry aside, Ms Merkel will try to make more progress than Mr Macron, who, before heading home after a three-day state visit to Washington, acknowledged that Mr Trump was likely to pull out of the multinational Iran nuclear deal.
The Iran deal, looming US tariffs on European steel and aluminium products, a planned Russian gas pipeline running under the Baltic Sea to Germany, and Berlin’s military spending are issues that divide Ms Merkel and Mr Trump and likely to come up at their working lunch.
When asked if Germany was doing enough to reach a NATO target for member countries to spend 2% of economic output on defense annually, new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news conference in Brussels.
“No (Germany) should meet the goals that they agreed to that’s the expectation, not only for Germany but for everyone. We’re hopeful that at the NATO summit that every NATO partner will deliver a credible plan to achieve that goal.”
Mr Trump said he did not expect to come to an agreement on Iran during their meeting.
“I think we’ll be talking about Iran probably, but I don’t necessarily expect it one way or the other,” he said.
“We’ll be having discussions on Iran, we’ll be having discussions on trade.”
Mr Macron made the European position on the Iran nuclear deal clear ahead of Ms Merkel’s visit.
Earlier this week Mr Macron called on the United States not to abandon the Iran deal as Western envoys said Britain, France and Germany were nearing agreeing a package they hope could persuade Mr Trump to save the pact.
Mr Trump will decide by 12 May whether to revive US sanctions on Iran.
Doing so would be a serious blow to the nuclear deal, which many Western countries sees as essential for stopping Tehran developing a nuclear bomb.
Source » rte