Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
Global | By Doris Richards

Trump did not refuse to shake Merkel's hand


Mr Trump said on Twitter on Saturday - a day after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington - that Germany "owes vast sums of money to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!" Germany does not owe "vast sums of money to NATO" because that's not the way the organization works.

During a joint press conference, Trump joked the at least he and Merkel had wiretapping "in common" - referencing claims that he and the German leader were put under surveillance under the Obama administration.

Trump tweeted the words just a day after his meeting with German Chancellor Merkel in Washington, where according to German media, the two had a "Not warm, but not distant" meeting. Germany now spends 1.23% of its GDP on defence but this is being increased. "Some would say she's the most important leader in the world right now".

The President's stonewall of Merkel, however, comes after the two have clashed over worldwide issues such as immigration.

Trump's meeting with Merkel was one of the most significant of his young presidency, as the two have seemed to be on opposite ends on many critical issues such as free trade and immigration and the president has been very critical of the chancellor.

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"He's been president less than two months; she has been chancellor more than 10 years", said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

On Sunday, Germany's biggest-selling daily Bild said that throughout the White House meeting, not once did Trump look her in the eye. "We have conservative groups, other groups, everybody wants certain things".

Mr Spicer was very apologetic when confronted by Mr Darroch at a White House dinner on Thursday, the Western diplomat said.

She also delivered a staunch defence of globalisation, and said she hoped the United States and the European Union could resume discussions on a trade agreement. Merkel has struck a hard line over incursions into Ukraine and the Kremlin's support for Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad. But US officials have publicly praised the alliance since Trump took office, and Merkel is among European leaders who have outlined steps to boost defense spending to the target level.

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