Germany owes 'vast sums of money' to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and US

Posted March 20, 2017

President Donald Trump has defiantly refused to back down from his explosive claim that Barack Obama wiretapped his phones.

Trump's public appearances with Merkel betrayed an awkwardness between the two leaders, including during two widely remarked upon appearances in the White House.

But Germany's top-selling Bild newspaper said that was "improbable", saying that throughout the meeting, Trump did not once look Merkel in the eye. The German chancellor maintained her composure during the awkward diplomatic moment.

When asked about the issue by a German reporter, Trump underscored that despite division between Germany and the USA "at least we have something in common, perhaps".

Trump and the German chancellor seemed on amicable enough terms when Merkel first arrived at the White House, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries as the German leader stepped from her vehicle. She said the "success of Germans has always been one where the German success is one side of the coin and the other side of the coin has been European unity and European integration".

Mr Trump backed Britain's departure from the European Union and has expressed scepticism of multilateral trade agreements.

It is the first in-person meeting between the leaders of the Western world's most influential countries since Trump's unexpected win in November's presidential election.

Trump even ignored Merkel's invitation for a handshake before the photographers.

"It's always much better to talk to one another than about one another", she said.

Trump's proposal to do away with the federal agency that investigates chemical accidents is drawing sharp criticism from environmental, labor and safety advocates, who say eliminating the watchdog puts American lives at risk. "That is our task respectively".

"We need to be fair with each other", Merkel said, saying both countries were expecting "that something good comes out of it for their own people". He has, for example, heavily criticized Merkel's decision to allow hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany, a move that is a key issue in her re-election race this year.

Only the U.S. and four other members reach the benchmark of spending 2% of GDP on defence. President Trump was also expected to lean on Merkel to increase Germany's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spending during their meeting Friday.

Both leaders, however, emphasised also the areas of cooperation, including the war in Afghanistan, Ukraine or the fight against ISIS.

Merkel, for her part, scolded Trump for imposing a travel ban on immigrants from six mostly Muslim countries, and reminded him that any close U.S. -Germany cooperation must be based on "values of democracy, freedom, respect for the rule of law and human dignity, regardless of origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political belief". The president has been deeply critical of foreign trade and national security agreements but suggested he was only trying to revise trade deals to better serve US interests, rather than pull back from the world entirely.

He said that in the end of the process it will be a great plan. The 2018 budget that Chancellor Merkel unveiled last week calls for Germany to spend an additional $1.5 billion on its military. "Trump's trade negotiator [Peter] Navarro has been singling out Germany as the biggest USA trade problem, bigger even than China".