While campaigning for president, Donald Trump slammed Chancellor Angela Merkel for “ruining” Germany. He called her decision to allow more than a million refugees into Germany “insane.” He even predicted that Germans would overthrow her.
Trump, now the president of the United States, and Merkel, still the leader of Germany, will come face to face for the first time Friday at the White House.
From McClatchy DC Bureau
Merkel, ranked as the second most powerful person in the world by Forbes last year, is expected to ignore Trump’s criticism altogether and move forward on forming a relationship with the brash new leader of one of Germany’s closest allies.
I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite They picked person who is ruining Germany
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2015
After nearly a dozen years as chancellor, Merkel is known for her successful track record on dealing with notoriously difficult leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. German media report that she has been studying Trump’s speeches and interviews to prepare for the visit.
“She’s used to awkward meetings. She’s handled them quite well,” said Constanze Stelzenmueller, an expert on German, European and trans-Atlantic policy at the Brookings Institution, a research center. “You don’t linger over the personal.”
Merkel had good relationships with Trump’s predecessors, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama. Despite allegations that the Obama administration wiretapped her cellphone, Merkel and Obama maintained a close partnership. She was the last world leader he called before leaving office.
Trump and Merkel differ on substance and style. They disagree on values and how those values translate to policy, including immigration, trade, defense spending and the role of the European Union. A Trump adviser recently accused Germany of depressing the euro to gain a trade advantage.
“I think Germany views the United States with equal portions of puzzlement and concern at the moment,” said Jeff Rathke, senior fellow and deputy director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The two leaders are expected to meet, have lunch and host a joint news conference. Perhaps in the hopes of relating to a former businessman, Merkel will be joined by the CEOs of automaker BMW and industrial firm Siemens.
Trump and Merkel are not expected to announce any new agreements. Their meeting was scheduled for Tuesday but then postponed three days after a snowstorm on the East Coast.
They’ve spoken by phone but have never met. Vice President Mike Pence visited with Merkel in Germany recently. Their aides have met.
The list of possible topics for their talk is long: NATO, the United Nations, the fight against the Islamic State, the situation in the Middle East, Afghanistan, North Korea, climate change and defense.
From McClatchy DC Bureau