April 30, 2017

Donald Trump says on Twitter: Germany owes United States 'vast sums of money'

19 March 2017, 01:00 | Muriel Sparks

Enda Kenny set to meet US President Donald Trump

WASHINGTON DC- MARCH 16 U.S. President Donald Trump and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny acknowledge the press outside the West Wing of the White House

"Germany has done very well in its trade deals with the US, and I give them credit for it", Trump told a White House press conference.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed her commitment to refugees during a press conference held after her meeting with President Donald Trump, who has actively fought to keep Syrian refugees out of the U.S. He totally dodged the topic in his response. Since Trump is incapable of seeing things through any lens other than "deals", the fact that the USA spends considerably more on defense than anyone else upsets him (not enough to stop him from pledging to drastically increase the United States' defense budget, of course).

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.

Trump repeated his criticism of countries in the alliance that don't meet the goal during the press conference.

Only five out of 28 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations are now meeting the two percent of GDP spending mark. The US, on the other hand, contributes 3.6% - nearly double the requirement.

He called such a suggestion "another example of, as you say, fake news", reaffirming the US' "strong support" for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but reiterating his stance that allies need to "pay their fair share" for the cost of defence. Germany spends about 1.2 per cent on defense now.

Merkel's mobile phone had been tapped by the National Security Agency (NSA) during Obama's administration as part of a program that the former US President brought to an end following leaks by Edward Snowden.

In fact, the USA has no direct, bilateral trade deals with Germany.

Before coming to office the U.S. president called Merkel's acceptance of refugees a "catastrophic mistake" and said she was "ruining Germany".

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Trump may have been attempting to somehow make light of either his own claims, or Merkel's history as a target of the NSA.

Mr Merkel said she hoped the United States and the European Union could resume discussions on a trade agreement and that she had told Mr Trump Germany needed to meet North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spending goals.

James Mattis, the US Secretary of Defence, told European leaders at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in February the US would "moderate its commitment" to the group unless member states put in more money.

"I've always said it's much, much better to talk to one another and not about one another, and I think our conversation proved this", Merkel said through a translator during a joint press conference with her host, who in the past accused her of "ruining" Germany by admitting large numbers of Middle Eastern refugees. "You should be talking to Fox (News)", Trump said, though he did stand by his assertion that Obama spied on him.

The two clashed on trade on Friday.

In her first telephone conversation with Mr Trump after he took office, she explained that the Geneva Convention obliges signatories, including the United States, to take in refugees of war on humanitarian grounds.

Mr Trump has ruffled feathers in Germany by threatening its carmakers with tariffs and calling on Berlin to boost defence spending.

"She wants to maintain the European Union, she wants to maintain North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, she's wary of Putin. On the other hand, when expectations are low sometimes that can set the stage for improvement".

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