The comment reflected the tension that permeated the joint press conference.
Before coming to office in January, Trump had set the tone by calling Merkel’s acceptance of refugees a “catastrophic mistake” and suggestion she was “ruining Germany”. Then he will lead a roundtable discussion on vocational training with USA and German business leaders. Asked if they talked about NATO, Trump said the two leaders had discussed many things.Merkel smiled comfortably in her chair next to the president, who sat with his legs apart and hands together. Few leaders on the world stage have more experience in this realm than Merkel, a Russian speaker who has had her fair share of interactions with the Russian president during the dozen or so years she has been chancellor.
Trump’s policies on immigration and refugees have also anxious Germany and other European allies.
That could be tricky for Merkel, particularly in an election year when defense spending is unlikely to be a priority for voters, but there could be an opportunity for her to play to Trump’s professed love of a deal.
It is unlikely that the Merkel-Trump pairing will replicate the warm and trusting political alliance between the chancellor and President Obama, which survived the revelation that the Americans had listened in to Mrs Merkel’s phone calls.
Mrs Merkel has already found cause to criticise Mr Trump’s policies. In her first public reaction to Trump’s victory, Merkel lectured the President-Elect on “the respect for the law and the dignity of human beings, independent of their origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation”.
But even behind closed doors, tension remained.
“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 defence”, Mr Trump said at the joint news conference. “These nations must pay what they owe”.
Germany, like many European countries, has seen a massive influx of migrants and refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa, and a growing number of right-wing and xenophobic political parties across the continent have sought to tap into fears over terrorism and crime.
Merkel reportedly said that the German relationship with the U.S.is important and a two-way street.
Trump’s allegations against President Barack Obama have sparked a reactions ranging from bafflement to anger in Washington, with both Democrats and Republican lawmakers saying they have no evidence to support his claim.
“The other option is that we file a suit against him at the WTO – there are procedures laid out there because in the WTO agreements it is clearly laid out that you’re not allowed to take more than 2.5% taxes on imports of cars”, Ms Zypries said. Its deficit in goods trade with Germany was $65 billion in 2016 – a point Trump will reinforce, say senior administration officials.
Peter Navarro, Mr Trump’s adviser on trade, has called this imbalance a “serious issue” and accused the European Union of deliberately devaluing the euro to gain a price advantage.
Trump also bristled at a question about why he labels press reports he dislikes as “fake news”.