Merkel: "A Good, Frank Exchange of Views"
Speaking at the joint press conference in the White House, Chancellor Angela Merkel said it had been a great pleasure for her to meet President Donald Trump in person for the first time. The main aim, she said was to speak to one another rather than about one another, and to identify common interests.
Enlarge image (© Bundesregierung/Kugler) Chancellor Angela Merkel has met President Donald Trump for the first time. After their meeting, the Chancellor summed up, "We have had a good, frank first exchange of views". She added that she looked forward to more discussions. On a number of issues the two sides intend to "work together intensively at the level of our advisors."
The Chancellor’s visit to President Donald Trump was the first time the two leaders had met face to face. The meeting, originally planned for Tuesday 14 March, was postponed because a severe storm was forecast for the East Coast of the USA. The decision to delay the visit was made only a few hours before the Chancellor’s plane took off on Monday evening.
Shared security interests
Enlarge image Chancellor Merkel and Donald Trump held a joint press conference in the White House East Room. (© Germany.info/Nicole Glass) The Chancellor thanked the USA for decades of support. After the Second World War, the Marshall Plan made economic recovery "possible in a very special way." During the Cold War too, the United States were always there at our side. And the reunification of Germany, divided since the Second World War, would have been inconceivable without the support of the USA. "We are happy that today we can live in freedom and security in a reunited country," said Angela Merkel.
The Chancellor thanked the President for his clear commitment to NATO. "NATO is extremely important for us, and it is no accident that, at the NATO summit in Wales, it was noted that Germany too will increase its defence spending," reiterated Angela Merkel. In Wales in 2014, German affirmed its commitment to achieving the two-per cent target by 2024. It increased its defence budget by eight per cent last year alone.
The issue of security and defense "does of course have many facets" over and above NATO, including development assistance and the question of support for missions in Africa, where African soldiers are fighting to guarantee freedom and security. "Talks will continue on these points," said Angela Merkel. With a view to Afghanistan, she reported that the two sides had agreed that Germany would continue its commitment there, as would the USA. "We will work hand in hand in Afghanistan." The American President concurred on this point.
Fighting terrorism – and working for peace
Enlarge image President Trump greeting Chancellor Merkel (© Germany.info/Nicole Glass) With a view to efforts to fight international terrorism, the Chancellor said, "We are fighting Islamist terrorism together." Germany will continue both training activities in Iraq and reconnaissance in terms of Syria. The two sides are to work together to achieve political solutions in Syria and in Libya.
"I am happy that the American administration and the President personally have affirmed their commitment to the Minsk process," stressed Angela Merkel. A solution must be found, because it is on the one hand a question of achieving a secure and sovereign Ukraine, "but also of the chance to improve relations with Russia – once the problems in Ukraine are resolved." The Minsk agreements provide "a basis for this, but regrettably not much progress has yet been made." That is why there is to be very close cooperation at expert level over the coming months, in order to achieve progress.
Harnessing economic potential
Enlarge image Roundtable discussion on vocational training (© picture alliance / Pat Benic/CNP) "I am also here in my capacity as President of the G20," said Angela Merkel. "This year we will be hosting the G20 summit and I am happy that the President has already accepted our invitation to attend the summit in Hamburg." The two sides will stay in touch with respect to the July summit.
"We all advocate a fair trading system. We need a win-win situation where all sides benefit," she stressed. The two sides will continue to discuss details. During their meeting with industrialists and trainees it was already apparent "what potential our two economies have". It was very moving to see how much work is being done here for the future, she said. Particularly in terms of the transition from classic industrial production to the digitalisation of manufacturing, "Industry 4.0" as it is known in Germany, skills, training and capabilities are vitally important - "not only for young people, but also for those who might have become unemployed and need training to get back into work" stressed Angela Merkel. This issue is crucially important in both countries, she said.