President Emmanuel Macron met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday in an event that often elicits a reaction from US Republicans and Democrats alike.
The two spoke with reporters after the so-called North Atlantic Partnership (or NATO) summit. While the news came out later that they “recall the commitments made in April 2015 in Warsaw to integrate and centralize decision-making so that NATO could defend all members,” the statement did not say what has changed since then.
Merkel is looking to usher in a new, more cooperative era in the relationship between Paris and Berlin. During Macron’s campaign for the presidency, he promised that he would repair the relationship between France and Germany and pushed to take greater responsibility for what’s happening in European security. Merkel’s response was to call for a more “cooperative” and “European” security Europe that they previously suggested they would work towards, but that would go no further than conventional cooperation. Macron’s recent political rise and his current pro-European stances, however, are drawing strong criticism from U.S. critics.
President Donald Trump called for Paris-Dusseldorf trade talks this month. During the exchange, Trump, Merkel, and Macron held talks on Saturday that included dinner at the White House. There’s “confirmation from the Germans that they want to start talks,” Trump said, noting that the talks will begin in the next 90 days.
Trump thinks that Germany is stealing German automakers from the United States, and so he has been following closely German negotiations with the United States on allowing for “more exports” of passenger cars, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“I think the Germans are trying to take advantage of the United States,” Sanders said. “The President and Merkel had a very good talk about just that last night. They are aware of the issue, and they are working on it and will continue to work on it.”
Trump has called the summit an “amazing opportunity” and that “there will be no barriers, there will be no tariffs and there will be a lot of trade flowing back and forth.”
Merkel and Trump have been at odds on the size of the European Union, whether it should remain open to migrants, and on the Iran nuclear deal, to name a few. “I think she must be the strongest woman in the world,” Trump said, adding that he won’t call Merkel “Mother Merkel” — the German name for Merkel. “She’s strong on Russia, and the US must be strong on Russia,” he said.
Meanwhile, after seeing a foot and a bathtub from the space program in the White House residence during Sunday’s visit, European politicians are taking advantage of their ability to charm the US president. On the European political landscape, there are a handful of French politicians who are most closely associated with Trump. One is far-right firebrand Marine Le Pen, the daughter of French presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen. Another, former Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot, is promoting a French candidate for president. The French president, François Hollande, did not meet Trump when he visited the White House, but he did have a meeting with Merkel.
After meeting with Trump in Washington, Merkel left the White House to fly by helicopter to Germany. Along the way, she stopped off at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to talk with Trump Tower owner and owner of German television broadcaster RTL, Richard Stein and his wife, Kristina Stein.