US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel Hold First Face-to-Face Meeting at White House Friday March 17,2017
US President Donald Trump welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House on Friday March 17,2017 for a meeting that could help determine the future of the transatlantic alliance and shape the working relationship between two of the world's most powerful leaders.
The new U.S. president greeted the long-serving stateswoman at the White House with a handshake upon her arrival before they began talks in the Oval Office. Both leaders described their meeting in brief remarks to reporters as having been very good.
The leader of Europe's largest economy and the U.S. president were expected to discuss funding for NATO and relations with Russia in their first meeting since Trump took office in January 2017. Asked if they talked about NATO, Trump said the two leaders had discussed many things.
Merkel smiled comfortably in her chair next to the president, who sat with his legs apart and hands together.
They are scheduled to hold a joint press conference around 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT.)
The meeting is consequential for both sides.
Merkel, who officials say has prepared carefully for the encounter, is likely to press Trump for assurances of support for a strong European Union.
Trump, who as a presidential candidate criticized Merkel for allowing hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany, will seek her support for his demand that North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations pay more for their defense needs.
Relationship building is a less overt but important agenda item. Merkel had close relations with Trump's Democratic and Republican predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and she is likely to seek a strong working relationship with Trump despite major policy differences and wariness in Germany about the former New York businessman.
"Those who know the chancellor know that she has a knack for winning over people in personal discussions. I am sure that Donald Trump will not be immune," said Juergen Hardt, a conservative lawmaker who helps coordinate transatlantic relations for the German government.
Trump is eager to see follow-through on his demand that European countries shoulder more of the burden of paying for the NATO alliance, which he has criticized.
He will also seek ideas from Merkel on how to deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a leader Merkel has dealt with extensively and whom Trump, to the consternation of Republican and Democratic lawmakers, has praised.