Prudent Merkel meets unpredictable Trump amid tense ties

Source: The Local

Europe’s most powerful leader, Angela Merkel, meets for the first time on Tuesday America’s flamboyant President Donald Trump, whose arrival in the White House has sent shockwaves across the Atlantic.

While former US president Barack Obama had labelled Merkel his “closest international partner”, there has been little known contact between the German leader and Trump since he took office.

Trump’s criticism of Germany over issues ranging from its record trade surplus to Merkel’s liberal refugee stance, as well as his backing for Britain to leave the European Union, have not gone unnoticed in Berlin.

A month after US Vice President Mike Pence delivered a message to Europe underscoring the importance of transatlantic ties, Tuesday’s meeting will be scrutinised for clues on whether Trump fully endorses that message.

The reserved German leader herself underlined that she is travelling to Washington not only as Germany’s leader, but also as an envoy of the EU.

“I will of course point out that for us, our country and our membership in the European Union are two sides of the same coin,” Merkel said in Brussels ahead of the visit.

The Washington meeting would also allow for “an exchange of bilateral and international topics, and transatlantic ties, as we have always stressed, are very important,” added Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer.

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