Merkel says looking forward to meeting Trump in Washington - paper

Merkel says looking forward to meeting Trump in Washington - paper

'As far as wiretapping, I guess - by this past administration - at least we have something in common, perhaps, ' Trump said during Friday's presser.

Former US President Barack Obama in 2016 said in an interview with The Atlantic about his foreign policy doctrine that "free riders aggravate me".

President Donald Trump has said Germany owes North Atlantic Treaty Organisation "vast sums of money" and should pay the United States more for defending it.

In an exchange caught on video, photographers gathered around Trump and Merkel in the Oval Office early Friday afternoon and suggested that the two leaders shake hands for the camera.

But all anyone will remember of the meeting was Trump's decision to double down on the unfounded claims that he was wiretapped by British spies at the behest of the Obama administration, and his awkward attempt to joke about it with Merkel (whose phones had been tapped by the National Security Agency during the Obama years).

Five members including the USA and the United Kingdom now reach Nato's benchmark of spending two per cent of GDP on defence; Germany spends 1.23 per cent though this is set to increase.

As a candidate, Mr Trump frequently accused the chancellor of ruining Germany for allowing an influx of refugees and other migrants from Syria and accused his campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, of wanting to be "America's Angela Merkel".

Mr Trump said trade agreements have led to greater trade deficits.

The "very talented lawyer" whom Sean Spicer quoted was Judge Andrew Napolitano - a conservative pundit who has said that 9/11 "couldn't possibly have been done the way the government told us".

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The meetings at the White House included discussions on strengthening North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, fighting the Islamic State group, the conflict in Afghanistan and resolving Ukraine's conflict, all matters that require close co-operation between the US and Germany.

"So that's not going to prevent us from concluding agreements and indeed this would then qualify as a bilateral agreement between the European Union and the United States if we had it", she added. "We don't want victory; we want fairness".

Trump reiterated his position throughout the campaign that trade agreements have to benefit USA workers in order to gain his support.

Mr Trump said he did not believe in isolationism, but that trade policy should be fairer. You look at China, virtually any country we do business with, it's not exactly good for our workers.

During a joint press conference, Trump was asked by a German reporter about his recent allegations that his predecessor spied on him during last year's allegations.

But Merkel argues that protectionist trade policies would hurt the overall economies of both countries, and highlights German companies like Volkswagen AG that have opened factories in the US.

The United Kingdom's decision to leave the group and rising nationalist parties in other parts of Europe - as well as Trump's own victory - have eliminated some of her closer political allies, including Obama. Exit question one: If it's true that Geert Wilders was damaged by comparisons to Trump, will Trump's antagonism inadvertently end up helping Merkel in this fall's elections?

The two leaders are due to hold more than two hours of talks followed by a working lunch.

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