US PRESIDENT Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held their first face-to-face meeting at the White House, with previous hostility mostly forgotten.
Trump praised Germany for commitments to paying its “fair share” towards Nato, and Merkel responded that she was pleased to hear how important he felt the alliance was.
The agenda also included discussions on how to fight Daesh and resolving Ukraine’s conflict, both matters requiring close co-operation between the countries.
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The meeting had a promising start with the pair smiling for photos, although Trump later appeared to snub photographers and Merkel herself when asked to shake her hand. He finally did after their press conference.
Another awkward moment came when the American President was asked about his claims that Obama had him wiretapped, responding that “at least we have something in common”.
Despite fiercely criticising the chancellor during his 2016 campaign for her policy of welcoming Syrian refugees, Trump did broadly continue his previous stance of reverting to a more diplomatic approach when confronted by a world leader in person.
“You watch what happens to Angela Merkel, who I always thought of as a very good leader until she did this. I don’t know what went wrong with her,” said then-candidate Trump at an August rally in Virginia.
He invoked the German Chancellor as a foil at his rallies, accusing his campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, of wanting to be “America’s Angela Merkel”.
He also lashed out at Time magazine when it named her “Person of the Year” in 2015 instead of him.
Trump, at the time, did find ways to voice his respect. When a television station in September asked him to name a world leader he admired, he cited Merkel.
The chancellor reportedly studied Trump’s speeches and policies in advance of her trip, eager to find areas for cooperation.