Donald Trump and Angela Merkel: Riding on differences, the ‘odd couple’ hold an awkward first talk 

March 18, 2017, 1:38 pm
Donald Trump and Angela Merkel: Riding on differences, the ‘odd couple’ hold an awkward first talk 
WORLD
WORLD
Donald Trump and Angela Merkel: Riding on differences, the ‘odd couple’ hold an awkward first talk 

Donald Trump and Angela Merkel: Riding on differences, the ‘odd couple’ hold an awkward first talk 

When Angela Merkel, German Chancellor who is now considered by many as the one who stand for the liberal values, meet Donald Trump, the US President who won the battle by invoking all kinds of sectarianism, it is bound to create interest, and it did. Before Donald Trump who used to despise the refugees whenever he got chance Merkel reiterated her stand in favour of having a humanitarian approach toward the victims of civil war. Trump an opponent of what is now generally presented as globalisation, tried to present himself more accomodative by saying that he does not wish to promote isolationism.

Though the leaders discussed key issues including Nato and trade during the two hours of talk, they could not disguise the gulf that separates them on trade, immigration and a host of other thorny issues. They notably did not shake hands as they sat for photographers in the Oval Office after their opening conversation. However, in the news conference after the meet, both leaders made more conciliatory statements.

The German chancellor used the opportunity to defend her stance on refugees, globalisation and “win-win” trade deals, while the Republican President again used the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” and set out an economic nationalist vision that would put “American workers first”.

Trump reiterated his support for the NATO, and also “the need for our Nato allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defence”. Merkel said she was “gratified” that the US president pledged support for Nato and the Minsk peace process in Ukraine. Trump insisted that he is a believer in free trade and declared: “I am not an isolationist,” The Guardian reported.

I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for Nato as well as the need for our Nato allies to pay their fair share of the cost of defence. Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States. These nations must pay what they owe
Donal Trump, US President

Germany is among many Nato members that do not meet the benchmark 2 percent of GDP to be spent on defence.

On trade, the US President said: “I am not an isolationist. “I believe a policy of trade should be a fair trade. And the United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years and that's going to stop,” Trump added.

When Merkel brought the topic of immigration, Trump totally dodged the topic in his response.

Immigration has to be worked on, but this has to be done by looking at refugees as well. The right way of going about it and that’s obviously what we have an exchange of views about
Angela Merker, German Chancellor 

Trump completely ignored Merkel’s comments and returned to trade topics. During the talk, he, however, said both countries must protect themselves from the threat of what he called “radical Islamic terrorism”. Trump had repeatedly attacked Merkel during his presidential campaign last year, accusing her of “ruining” Germany for allowing an influx of refugees from Syria. However, he seemed to have retracted that kind of an attack keeping away from going further into the topic.

Trump said immigration was “a privilege not a right” and that “safety of our citizens must come first”, whereas Merkel said: “Refugees have to be given the opportunity to shape their own lives.”

Nevertheless, Trump found a common ground with Merkel on ‘wiretapping’. “At least we have something in common,” Trump said, apparently referring to reports during Obama's presidency that the US had bugged Merkel's phone.

“We tried to talk about areas where we disagree, and find a compromise,” she told reporters.

We held a conversation where we were trying to address also those areas where we disagree, but we tried to bring people together ... (and) tried to find a compromise that is good for both sides
Angela Merker, German Chancellor 

“That is good for both, because we need to be fair.” Trump replied: “All I want is fairness. Germany’s done very well in its trade deals with the United States and I give them credit for it.”

Joint Press Conference of Angela Merkel and Donald Trump.

The meeting was an awkward encounter that was the most closely watched of his young presidency and took on an outsize symbolism: the great disrupter confronts the last defender of the liberal world order, Mark Lander wrote for the New York Times.

However, observers hold the view that this first meeting of two very different leaders and experienced negotiators was a substantive start.