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German-US Relations: Donald Trump and Angela Merkel "make nice" - sort of .....

Trump : considers EU non-existent 
If the cancellation of their previously planned meeting due to severe weather in Washington could be perceived as a fitting symbol for Chancellor Merkel's and President Trump's earlier relationship - frosty, if not icy - then today's weather in the US capital - sunny, but crisp - might have served as a sign that the two are trying to move beyond past grievances.

And their public statements during the highly anticipated press conference only underscored the palpable wish to restart the personal relationship between both leaders, after Trump's vicious comments about Merkel during the election campaign and to restore the traditionally close partnership between both countries, which has been in question ever since Trump took office.

It was, of course, up to Trump try to reset the relationship with Merkel and to reaffirm the commitments to transatlantic ties, and at first glance, he did.

But below the surface, things were not as smooth as it seemed. That is because on some crucial issues, including trade and the EU, Merkel and Trump took a very different tack. But that is not entirely accurate since Trump - in a noteworthy and unusual move for a US president - did not even mention the European Union once in his remarks.

"Trump made no reference whatsoever to the European Union, either in general terms or, more pointedly, on the specific issue of trade relations," said Anderson. "The closest he came to acknowledging the EU was when he stated that the US would respect 'historic institutions,' but then added that there needed to be balance and fairness in the relationship to the US." 

Merkel, meanwhile, "spoke from an entirely different - and actually much more grounded and accurate - perspective, answering in effect that the EU negotiates trade deals with member state input and that the principle of mutual benefit in EU trade deals is well established," said Jeffry Anderson, who directs Georgetown University's Center for German and European Studies.

"So on trade, which had not been discussed at that point in the visit, the two leaders seemed to be speaking past one another, which will not be a reassuring message for Germany or for Europe," Anderson added.

That impression was shared by presidential rhetoric scholar Farnsworth.
"The news conference suggested that these two leaders have little in common, other than a desire to avoid exchanging harsh words in public," he said. "Mainly they talked past each other." 
Having made some boilerplate statements about the importance of German-American ties, but really having spoken past one another on a substantial level may sound like a harsh verdict for a meeting between a German Chancellor and an American president.

But given Merkel and Trump's past and their very different political and personal backgrounds as well as the fact that this was their first ever face-to-face encounter it may have been all that could have been reasonably expected at this point.

Read more: Donald Trump and Angela Merkel make nice - sort of | Americas | DW.COM | 17.03.2017

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