Wednesday , January 22 2020

Merkel backs US-Russia summit in nod to Trump


German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she favours a US-Russian summit, seeking to point global diplomacy forward after a tumultuous meeting of Group of Seven leaders.
Russian President Vladimir Putin wasn’t invited to the G-7 summit in Canada, although US President Donald Trump suggested he be readmitted. In an echo of Cold War meetings on neutral ground, Austria is encouraging the US to hold a summit with Putin in Vienna, a White House official said.
“I’m certainly in favour of that,” Merkel said in a German television interview. “I’d even wish for that to happen — that two presidents meet for an extended period of time.”
Merkel’s comment was one of two nods to Trump during her hour-long ARD interview after returning from the G-7. She also said the US president wasn’t entirely wrong in pressing Germany to increase defense spending, which didn’t prevent Trump from a renewed attack on Europe’s military outlays.
Almost 18 months into Trump’s presidency, Merkel’s comments offered evidence of Germany’s struggle to adapt to an upended relationship with the US. Echoing a series of comments she’s made about the erosion of US-European ties, Merkel expressed consternation about Trump’s disavowal of the G-7’s joint closing statement.
“Reneging in a tweet is sobering and a bit depressing,” Merkel said. “It’s difficult, it was disappointing this time, but it’s not over. Sometimes it seems the American president thinks that only one side wins and everyone else loses.”
Even so, dialogue with the US president must continue and global partnerships aren’t over, she said.
Merkel said the contentious meeting drives home the point she’s made for more than a year: that the European Union needs to stand together to increase its clout on the world stage and that the US is a less reliable partner.
“We as Europe have to stand up for our principles, potentially together with Japan and Canada,” Merkel said.
The EU also won’t be “taken for a ride” in its trade conflict with the US, she said. The EU is ready to impose tariffs on US goods on July 1 in response to Trump’s
tariffs on imports of European steel and aluminum, Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in Berlin. Merkel said that Germany should raise defense spending to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product by 2025, short of a NATO target of 2 percent. Trump renewed his attacks, saying on Twitter that the EU should “pay much more” for defense.

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