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US President Donald J. Trump (R) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) speak during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 17 March 2017. Merkel's original visit on 14 March had to be postponed due to bad…

Merkel-Trump Visit: "It Could Have Been a Lot Worst"

Despite their differences in important issues like the refugees, the role of the US in NATO and the future of the European Union, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s…

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 Despite their differences in important issues like the refugees, the role of the US in NATO and the future of the European Union, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Washington last Friday wasn't that bad as expected. 

“It could have been a lot worse,” Germany's populist anti-Merkel daily, Bild, wrote of the relationship that is the cornerstone of the NATO alliance and vital to global security.

During the visit in Washington, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert welcomed  the president’s confirmation of the importance of NATO.

Mr. Seibert also reaffirmed Germany’s commitment to contributing 2 percent of its G.D.P. to NATO by 2024. But that did not seem to be enough for Mr. Trump, who on Saturday -one day after meeting Chancellor Merkel -insisted on Twitter that Germany owed the alliance “vast sums of money.”

Trump, who was spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, said on Twitter that Germany “owes vast sums of money to Nato & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”

The German defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, on Sunday rejected Donald Trump’s claim that Germany owes Nato and the US “vast sums” of money for defence.

'“There is no debt account at Nato,” Von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that it was wrong to link the alliance’s target for members to spend 2% of their economic output on defence by 2024 solely to Nato.

“Defence spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against [Isis] terrorism,” Von der Leyen said.

The wiretapping controversy also raised up during Merkel's visit to Washington. During a joint press conference, President Trump continued to claim that he’d been wiretapped by the Obama administration. Sean Spicer, the White House press officer, stuck to the story but offered no evidence, so it seems the White House is simply afraid to admit it was wrong.

More substantiated spying allegations appeared in the last days: The Justice Department indicted four Russian hackers and intelligence agents this week for their role in a cyberattack on Yahoo, and the charges provide insight into the methods—and international advantages—of America’s own spies.

Germans have been both fascinated and horrified by Mr. Trump’s willingness to ignore the strictures of diplomacy when dealing with foreign leaders. For example, he has castigated Ms. Merkel for allowing refugees to flow into Germany in 2015, and he has called into question post-World War II alliances, including NATO and the European Union. Germans have not been entirely sure what to make of him, as reported in The New York Times

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