Germany's Gabriel says ties with US 'difficult', will improve

Cheryl Sanders
May 31, 2017

Speaking at a news briefing on Tuesday after Trump intensified a dispute with Germany by calling Berlin's trade and spending policies "very bad", White House spokesman Sean Spicer looked to cool rising tensions.

When Trump returned over the weekend from the first foreign trip of his presidency, his aides hailed the tour as a success and a sign of renewed and bolder USA leadership on the world stage. Trump could have seized on that to make a case for a more positive German contribution to the world economy.

"The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out", she said at a campaign rally in Munich.

United States President Donald Trump has called Germany's trade and spending policies "very bad", intensifying a row between the longtime allies and immediately earning himself the moniker "destroyer of Western values" from a leading German politician. Coming hot on the heels of Trump's recent exclamation that Germans are "very bad", Trump now apparently believes the entirety of American-German relations to be "very bad".

In January, the White House accused Germany of exploiting an undervalued euro to boost its trade advantage, despite Berlin's long opposition to the European Central Bank's loose monetary policy.

Spicer's insistence that Trump and Merkel got along well comes after Trump made negative comments about the United States' trade relationship with Germany.

Merkel suggested that Europe's relationship with the USA had shifted significantly following last week's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and G-7 meetings with President Donald Trump that produced disappointing results, saying Saturday that "the times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days".

On Sunday, Ms Merkel showed the gravity of her concern about Washington's dependability under Mr Trump when she warned, at an election campaign event in a packed Bavarian beer tent - that the times when Europe could fully rely on others were "over to a certain extent".

He also alarmed world leaders by not explicitly saying he backed Article 5 of Nato's founding treaty, which commits member states to collective defence if one of them is attacked. "All I can say", she continued, "is that we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands". "The West has become smaller, at least it has become weaker", Gabriel said.

While President Donald Trump, now back in Washington, D.C., might have trumpeted his first foreign trip as a "great success", European leaders had a radically different read on the situation.

And he warned against "accelerating climate change by weakening environmental protection". "Merkel needs to put some distance between herself and Trump, who is exceptionally unpopular in Germany", said Marcel Dirsus, a political scientist at the University of Kiel in northern Germany.

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