Tuesday, December 12, 2017
   
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Germany and USA: Face to face

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump, leaders of major world powers, meet to discuss trade, refugees and global security.

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On Friday, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, met US President Donald Trump, in what was being described as a meeting of intractable symbolism.

Whereas Trump is seen as the ultimate disruptor, Merkel is being touted as the last remaining bastion of liberalism in the world order.

And yet, given their divergent approaches and views on some of the more pressing issues of our time, it was expected that both leaders, when they met at the White House, would look to find common ground on which to further their strategic relationship.

On the economy

Trump has repeatedly suggested that he would be pushing for high import duties on luxury German vehicles, a move that has drawn concerns that Germany may retaliate with its own tariffs for American companies.

Officially, Germany cannot negotiate economic deals without the European Union and it was expected that free trade would be high on Merkel’s agenda, in the face of rising protectionist rhetoric from Trump.

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On the military

Trump has called NATO "obsolete" and has complained about member states not contributing enough to the alliance.

Trump has also criticised countries, including Germany, which spend less than the NATO guideline of 2 percent of their GDP on their military. The US spent 3.3 percent of its GDP on the military in 2015.

Merkel has acknowledged that Germany needs to spend more on its military, but has indicated it would take time to do so.

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On refugees

In March 2017, Trump signed an executive order aiming to place a temporary ban on refugees from six predominantly Muslim countries.

The US president has previously described Merkel's open-door policy on refugees as "ruining Germany" and a "catastrophic" mistake.

In 2016, Germany took in more asylum seekers than the other 27 EU nations combined.

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