U.S. President Donald Trump held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels on Wednesday, hours after he fiercely criticised German policy on defence spending and gas imports from Russia.
The tone of their remarks when they jointly addressed reporters afterward appeared businesslike, after Trump had said Germany's reliance on Russian energy left it "in the control" of Moscow and Merkel later referred to her youth in Soviet-run East Germany to insist Berlin was now fully sovereign.
"We're having a great meeting. We're discussing military expenditure ... talking about trade," Trump told reporters who were allowed in to the meeting room.
Merkel recalls own East German youth in riposte to Trump
Chancellor Angela Merkel recalled her own youth in Soviet-dominated East Germany and said Germany was independent in its policy choices in a pointed response to U.S. President Donald Trump saying Berlin was a "totally controlled by Russia".Three hours after Trump's startling tirade over German imports of Russian gas and its slowness to increase defence spending, Merkel told reporters on arrival at a NATO summit in Brussels on Wednesday: "I have experienced myself how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union.Trump lashes Germany over gas pipeline deal, calls it Russia's 'captive'"I am very happy that today we are united in freedom, the Federal Republic of Germany. Because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions. That is very good, especially for people in eastern Germany."She also defended Germany's contribution to an alliance which Trump says has placed too much burden on the U.S. taxpayer: "Germany does a lot for NATO," she said."Germany is the second largest provider of troops, the largest part of our military capacity is offered to NATO and until today we have a strong engagement towards Afghanistan. In that we also defend the interests of the United States."
"We have a very, very good relationship with the chancellor. We have a tremendous relationship with Germany," he added, saying he had raised his concerns about a new gas pipeline planned from Russia to Germany.
Merkel said she had discussed migration and trade with Trump and looked forward to further exchanges as the United States remained a partner of Germany.
Trump lashes Germany over gas pipeline deal, calls it Russia's 'captive'
U.S. President Donald Trump launched a sharp public attack on Germany on Wednesday for supporting a Baltic Sea gas pipeline deal with Russia, saying Berlin had become "a captive to Russia" and he criticised it for failing to raise defence spending more.Trump, meeting reporters with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, before a NATO summit in Brussels, said it was "very inappropriate" that the United States was paying for European defence against Russia while Germany, the biggest European economy, was supporting gas deals with Moscow.Trump was due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the summit later in the day and will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.Berlin has given political support to the building of a new, $11-billion pipeline to bring Russian gas across the Baltic Sea called Nord Stream 2, despite qualms among other EU states. However, Merkel insists the project is a private commercial venture and is not funded by German taxpayers."When Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia," Trump said to Stoltenberg. "We're supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia."We're protecting Germany, we're protecting France, we're protecting all of these countries. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they're paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia."So we're supposed to protect you against Russia and you pay billions of dollars to Russia and I think that's very inappropriate," Trump said at the residence of the U.S. ambassador in Brussels."Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. You tell me, is that appropriate?," he asked, while Stoltenberg listened.Video: Trumps slams gas pipeline deal, calls Germany Russian 'captive'At one point, the former Norwegian prime minister pointed out that the NATO allies in Europe disagreed among themselves on ways to reduce the continent's reliance on Russian gas."Germany is totally controlled by Russia, cause they are getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline."Trump renewed his call for other NATO allies to pay in more to the Western alliance after years in which U.S. taxpayers have, he said, borne an "unfair" share of military spending."I think these countries have to step it up, not over a 10 year period, they have to step it up immediately. Germany is a rich country, they talk about increasing it a tiny bit by 2030. Well they could increase it immediately, tomorrow, and have no problem," Trump said."If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia. They got rid of their coal plants, they got rid of their nuclear, they're getting so much of their oil and gas from Russia. I think it is something NATO has to look at. It is very inappropriate."Poland renews call for EU to cut reliance on Russian gasNATO chief says despite differences, alliance 'stronger together'