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Trump and Merkel’s awkward handshake moment

WASHINGTON — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (all times local):

3:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s first meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel produced a slightly awkward moment when the president didn’t shake the German leader’s hand in front of photographers in the Oval Office.

Trump told photographers to “send a good picture back to Germany, please.” He said the leaders had had “very good” talks so far, while Merkel praised the “friendly reception.”

Photographers then shouted “handshake!” Merkel quietly asked Trump “do you want to have a handshake?”

There was no response from the president, who looked ahead with his hands clasped.

German weekly Der Spiegel commented that “the overall impression of this meeting was rather cool.” German daily Bild wrote on its website: “Trump didn’t want to give Merkel his hand in his office!”

Trump had earlier welcomed Merkel with a handshake. The two leaders later held a news conference.


2:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump says his White House shouldn’t be blamed for quoting a Fox News analyst who accused British intelligence of helping former President Barack Obama spy on him.

There is no evidence such spying took place and GCHQ, the British electronic intelligence agency, has called the allegation “utterly ridiculous.”

Trump says during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that “we said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television.”

He says, “you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”

He’s also doubling down on his unproven wiretapping allegation with a reference to 2013 reports that the U.S. listened in on Merkel’s phone calls.

He says that when it comes to wiretapping, “At least we have something in common, perhaps.”


2:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is pushing back on whether his “America First” agenda is isolationist.

In a Friday news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump said: “I don’t believe in an isolationist policy.”

Trump has been deeply critical of foreign trade and national security agreements. Yet the president suggested that he is only trying to revise them to better serve U.S. interests, rather than pull back from the world entirely.

Trump said trade agreements have led to greater trade deficits. The U.S. trade deficit with Germany was $64.9 billion last year, the lowest since 2009, according to the Commerce Department.

Trump bristled at the indication from a German reporter that this could be interpreted as isolationist.

He said: “I don’t know what newspaper you’re reading, but I guess that would be an example of fake news.”


2:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he expects the House Republican health plan will be passed “substantially pretty quickly.”

Speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday, Trump calls it a “great plan” and says it is “getting more and more popular with the Republican base, the conservative base and with people generally.”

Trump repeated his claim that so-called Obamacare is “a disaster.” He said that in the end of the process it will be a great plan.

Several Republicans have said they can’t support the law as it stands and are demanding changes.


2:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he has “strong support” for NATO but that allies “must pay what they owe.”

Trump, making his first appearance with Merkel, opened their White House news conference Friday by saying that “many nations owe vast sums of money” and that situation is “very unfair to the United States.”

Trump said these nations need “to pay their fair share” in order to receive the promise of defense from the rest of the alliance.

The president has long complained that the U.S. shoulders too much of the burden of the cost of the alliance, which now comprises 28 nation.

Merkel said she was encouraged that Trump supports NATO, stressed its vital role and pledged that Germany will increase its own payments.


2:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is stressing the need to protect the U.S. from what he calls “radical Islamic terrorism” in his joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The remarks come days after a federal court again struck down his executive order temporarily suspending the U.S. refugee program and barring people from a handful of Muslim-majority countries.

Trump says that both countries must protect themselves from the threat.

He says, “Immigration is a privilege, not a right, and the safety of our citizens must always come first, without question.”

Trump spent a good part of 2016 bashing the chancellor, accusing her of “ruining” Germany for allowing an influx of refugees into Germany.

While Merkel insists that Germany will continue to take in people who genuinely need protection, her government has toughened asylum rules.


2:20 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says of her visit with President Donald Trump that it’s “much better to talk to one another than about one another.”

She says the two discussed apprenticeship programs, and international politics during the early part of their visit. She says they will continue speaking over lunch, with a focus on fair trade and other matters.

Trump is listening to her remarks through a translation earpiece.


12:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he is discussing a myriad of topics with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a key European leader he harshly criticized for opening the door to refugees from Syria.

The two leaders posed for photographers in the Oval Office before a one-on-one meeting. Trump joked: “send a good picture back to Germany, please.”

They are expected to discuss strengthening NATO, fighting the Islamic State group and resolving Ukraine’s conflict — all matters that require close cooperation between the U.S. and Germany.

A joint news conference will be held in the afternoon.


11:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump has welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House.

Merkel arrived Friday morning for a series of meetings with Trump. The itinerary includes discussions on strengthening NATO, fighting the Islamic State group and resolving Ukraine’s conflict.

Trump spent much of 2016 bashing the chancellor, accusing her of “ruining” Germany for allowing an influx of refugees from Syria.

Merkel was originally supposed to visit the White House Tuesday. That meeting was delayed due to snow.



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