WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed Iran at the White house and announced in a joiunt press conference that they will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. Both leaders announced that they will need to work together on an array of international files. Trump said that he discussed with the German leader ways to review Iran nuclear deal. The leaders agreed also that Iran influence must be stopped and contained in the Middle East.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump put on a display of warmth and friendship during a White House meeting on Friday despite differences over trade and Iran that have sparked tensions between the two allies.
After their last White House meeting drew attention when the two leaders did not shake hands in the Oval Office, Trump made a point of doing just that, twice, while congratulating the German chancellor on her election win.
“We have a really great relationship, and we actually have had a great relationship right from the beginning, but some people didn’t understand that,” Trump said, calling Merkel a “very extraordinary woman.”
Merkel acknowledged that it took a while to form a government after heavy election losses to the far-right, but she said it was important to her to make her first trip out of Europe since establishing her administration to Washington.
The cautious Merkel has not established a particularly strong personal rapport with the brash Trump, and the mood of her one-day working visit contrasted sharply with the tactile “bromance” between Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Chemistry aside, Merkel will try to make more progress than Macron, who, before heading home after a three-day state visit to Washington, acknowledged that Trump was likely to pull out of the multinational Iran nuclear deal.
The Iran deal, looming US tariffs on European steel and aluminum products, a planned Russian gas pipeline running under the Baltic Sea to Germany, and Berlin’s military spending are issues that divide Merkel and Trump and likely to come up at their working lunch.
When asked if Germany was doing enough to reach a NATO target for member countries to spend 2 percent of economic output on defense annually, new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news conference in Brussels:
“No...(Germany) should meet the goals that they agreed to...that’s the expectation, not only for Germany but for everyone.”
Trump said he did not expect to come to an agreement on Iran during their meeting.
He said. “We’ll be having discussions on Iran, we’ll be having discussions on trade.”
Macron made the European position on the Iran nuclear deal clear ahead of Merkel’s visit.
Trump will decide by May 12 whether to revive US sanctions on Iran. Doing so would be a serious blow to the nuclear deal, which many Western countries sees as essential for stopping Tehran developing a nuclear bomb.