Trump vs. Merkel: Blistering Salvo Meets Quiet Rejoinder

Trump vs. Merkel: Blistering Salvo Meets Quiet Rejoinder


“We have a very, very good relationship with the chancellor, we have a tremendous relationship with Germany,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re having a great meeting. We’re discussing military expenditure, we’re talking about trade.” Noting Germany’s “tremendous success,” Mr. Trump added, “I believe that our trade will increase and lots of other things will increase, but we’ll see what happens.”

Asked if the pipeline issue had come up, Mr. Trump said that it had. For her part, Ms. Merkel was nonconfrontational. “I am pleased to have this opportunity to be here for this exchange of views,” she said, which extended to economics, migration and “the future of our trade relations.”

She concluded: “We are partners, we are good partners, and wish to continue to cooperate in the future.”

Mr. Trump had been advertising his intention to read the Riot Act to NATO allies about military spending, calling Americans “the schmucks that are paying for the whole thing” and vowing last week: “I’m going to tell NATO — you got to start paying your bills. The United States is not going to take care of everything.”

But his animus toward Germany, which spends about 1.24 percent of its G.D.P. on defense and has a large trade surplus with the United States, came out in fierce and startling terms. Mr. Trump has regularly criticized Germany for what he has described as the prevalence of German-made cars on American streets and for taking advantage of American largess to spend less on defense and more on education and social welfare. He has threatened the European Union with new tariffs on imported cars, as well as those already imposed on steel and aluminum.

But in the meetings on Wednesday, Mr. Trump framed his criticism in security terms.

“I have to say, I think it’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia,” Mr. Trump went on. “We’re supposed to protect you against Russia, but they’re paying billions of dollars to Russia and I think that’s very inappropriate.”

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project has been opposed by the United States for many years, including under President Barack Obama, as well as by some European countries, like Poland, that warn it will give Russia too much leverage.



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