19 March, 2017
Trump and Merkel tried to sidestep their differences in their meeting at the White House on Friday, but it was punctuated by some awkward moments.
Donald Trump hosts Germany's Angela Merkel at the White House Friday, a meeting delayed by a snowstorm and still clouded by a storm of words between the two ostensible allies. In his opening remarks at a joint White House press conference, Trump reiterated his support for the treaty-a key German priority.
Germany is supposed to spend 2 percent of its GDP on its own defense and is now spending 1.2 percent, down from 2.5 percent before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The US, on the other hand, contributes 3.6% - nearly double the requirement.
"I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as the need for our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense". Germany now spends 1.23 per cent, but this is being increased.
Mrs Merkel maintained her composure when Mr Trump repeated his contention that former president Barack Obama may have tapped his phones in Trump Tower.
Despite Trump's protectionist trade and economic platform and previous hints at pulling the U.S out of alliances where it was getting a "bad deal", Trump said that he was "not an isolationist" and that both countries "must continue to work together to protect our people from radical Islamic terrorism and to defeat ISIS".
While campaigning for the presidency, Mr Trump had criticised Ms Merkel, accusing her of "ruining" Germany for allowing an influx of refugees and other migrants from Syria.
There were few public attempts at the jocularity leaders often use to leaven such encounters, except for a barbed reference Trump made that they had "in common, perhaps" the experience of surveillance by USA intelligence.
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He said on Twitter that Germany owed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the USA for the "powerful, and very expensive defence it provides to Germany!"
The two were left to talk, based on the premise that, in Merkel's words, "it's much better to speak with each other than past each other".
Trump said Friday that trade should be "reciprocal".
Merkel said Germany had committed to increasing its military spending to the previously agreed level of 2% of GDP for NATO's European members. "You look at the deficits that we have and you look at all of the accumulation of debt".
Both German journalists asked about it point-blank.
"You shouldn't be talking to me".
Mr Trump has ruffled feathers in Germany by threatening its carmakers with tariffs and calling on Berlin to boost defence spending.
Merkel is "really the opposite" of Trump, German Institute for worldwide and Security Affairs Senior Fellow Susanne Dröge told NBC ahead of the meeting. On economy and the impact of migration, Merkel added that traffickers must be stopped, but welfare for refugees has to be taken care of. "On the other hand, when expectations are low sometimes that can set the stage for improvement".