Tuesday 31 March, 2020

Trump, Merkel to meet in Washington this month

News Desk
Published: 04 March 2017 Saturday, 12:07  PM

Trump, Merkel to meet in Washington this month

 Bonn, 04 March (deutschenews24.de/dpa)- German Chancellor Angela Merkel travels to Washington this month for her first face-to-face meeting with US President Donald Trump following a testy start to their relationship.

Officials in Berlin said the meeting between the president and the leader of Europe`s biggest economy would take place on March 14.

The two leaders had already spoken on the phone in January.

Merkel`s government has adopted a business-as-usual approach to Washington, despite Trump`s aggressive protectionist and nationalist stance. Since winning the election in November, Trump has vowed to make good on his "America first" policy and has cast doubt on the European Union`s future.

Merkel quickly laid out clear parameters for trans-Atlantic ties under the new Trump White House. In a statement within days of his victory, Merkel offered the new US leader "close cooperation" based on "shared values."

These included democracy and freedom, as well as respect for the right and dignity of every individual, irrespective of origin, skin colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation or political attitude, Merkel said.

Multinational organizations such as the EU, the US-led NATO military alliance, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations have been the cornerstone of Germany`s world view since the end of World War II.

To underline the point, Merkel told last month`s Munich security conference: "The challenges of our world today are not to be managed by any individual state."

Germany is hosting the G20 summit this year, which will take place in July in the German port city of Hamburg. Trump is expected to attend.

While Trump has described Merkel as Europe`s most important leader, he has also attacked her handling of Germany`s refugee crisis as "a catastrophic mistake".

In September 2015, Merkel decided to open Germany`s borders to allow almost 1 million refugees fleeing wars in Africa and the Middle East to enter the nation.

This week in his address to congress, Trump reminded US voters of the terrorist threat by referring to Germany, along with France and Belgium, following Islamic State-inspired attacks in those countries.

Merkel has fired back at Trump, telling him in comments at a press conference: "I think we Europeans hold our destiny in our own hands."

In addition, Trump has demanded that Germany along with other NATO states boost their defence budget so as to help share the burden of the alliance.

At 1.2 per cent of GDP, German spending on NATO falls short of the 2-per-cent target.

Trump has since reaffirmed his administration`s commitment to the 28-nation military pact and retreated from his earlier plans of forging a new relationship with Moscow.

However, Trump`s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is reported to have told Germany`s ambassador to the US that the White House wants a bilateral approach with individual EU member states, rather than having to go through Brussels.

As the world`s leading export nation, Germany political and business leaders also remain concerned about Trump`s anti-trade and protectionist stance.

Trump has already threatened the German auto industry with hefty penalties for selling cars in the US market that were produced elsewhere.

Last month, Trump`s top trade official Peter Navarro also accused Germany of using a "grossly undervalued" euro to "exploit" the US and its EU partners.

Once again, Merkel returned the serve saying that monetary policy was in the hands in the European Central Bank, an independent institution.