United States President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to downplay their fundamental differences when the two met for the first time on Friday in Washington. The two world leaders discussed a wide range of topics and ended their discussion with Trump saying, “At least we have something in common, perhaps.”
In a joint press conference, the US president claimed that both his and Merkel’s phones had been wiretapped under Barack Obama. The claim left the German chancellor looking both surprised and bewildered, reports said. The two leaders discussed various topics, ranging from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and trade to Russia and immigration, reported BBC.
Trump said he will support Nato and the Minsk peace process in Ukraine, but also made it clear that all Nato allies must pay their share for defence. “Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States. These nations must pay what they owe,” said Trump.
Regarding trade, the US president claimed that he believes in free trade. “I am not an isolationist,” he added, according to The Guardian. However, during the course of the meeting Trump blurted out an economic policy that places American workers first.
Merkel, however, seized the opportunity to defend her policies regarding refugees and globalisation. “I believe globalisation ought to be shaped in an open-minded way but also in a fair way. Freedom of movement within the European Union, for example, is a very important element of our economic progress, of peace, has been for many decades.” On the refugee issue, Merkel said they must get a chance opportunity to “shape their lives where they are”.
Merkel was supposed to visit Trump on March 14 but had to reschedule her trip because of a snowstorm in the northeast US. Friday’s meeting was seen as one that could shape the future of the transatlantic alliance, according to Reuters.