“We actually have had a great relationship from the beginning,” Trump said.
UNITED STATES.- This time, there were fewer hugs. President Donald Trump welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House on Friday for a visit of less than three hours. He greeted Merkel outside the West Wing with a handshake and a kiss on each cheek, a traditional welcome but far short of the bountiful display of personal warmth that was seen earlier in the week when he played host to French President Emmanuel Macron for a lavish three-day state visit.
Trump, in brief remarks alongside Merkel in the Oval Office, called her an “extraordinary woman,” congratulated her on her recent reelection and disputed any idea that their rapport was frosty. “We have a really great relationship. We actually have had a great relationship from the beginning,” Trump said.
Though her visit will be short on pomp, Merkel’s message was similar to Macron’s — that America and Europe need to bury the hatchet on key issues, from global trade to international security.
In a joint press conference Friday afternoon, it was apparent that despite the back-to-back visits, Trump’s divisions with Europe are still substantial.
Trump is widely expected to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran nuclear accord next month, despite pleas from Macron earlier this week and Merkel Friday. Merkel used her meeting with Trump to try to paper over the differences, calling the Obama-era agreement a “first step” toward curtailing and containing Iran’s regional ambitions and suggesting openness to a side agreement. Trump has said he was open to new negotiations with Iran, but has not said whether he would heed European calls for the U.S. to stay in the deal, which aims to restrict Iran’s nuclear efforts, while those talks are underway. His decision is expected by May 12.