Trump Says He and Merkel Have Wiretapping 'in Common'

A montage of U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

In one fell swoop, President Trump managed to wave off one embarrassing worldwide incident with a close European ally by invoking another.

President Donald Trump said on Saturday that he had a "great" meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House on Friday despite media reports to the contrary, and reiterated that Germany owes "vast sums" of money to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. "These nations must pay what they owe", he said.

When the topic moved to trade, Trump said the USA would do "fantastically well" in its trade relations with Germany.

When asked about it at the news conference, Trump, instead of taking the opportunity to roll it back, blamed Fox TV news channel for making that allegation, which Spicer had recycled at his daily briefing from the White House. "They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored".

Trump, however, said little about ongoing trade negotiations between the United States and the European Union, even as Merkel expressed optimism that the USA and EU could hammer out an agreement where "both sides win". "I didn't make opinion on it; that was statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox [News]".

The president added that if the reporter had further questions, he should ask Fox News, not Trump.

"I'm not an isolationist".

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"At least we have something in common, perhaps", said Mr Trump, referring to 2013 reports that the U.S. was monitoring Mrs Merkel's cellphone conversations.

'We just reiterated the fact that we were just simply reading media accounts. I think we'll know in a couple of months. "We literally listed a litany of media reports that are in the public domain". The new USA president, a political novice before the 2016 campaign, had his first face-to-face talks with a veteran German leader whom he frequently maligned on the campaign trail, and whose free-trade, open-border politics stand in marked contrast to Trump's nationalistic rhetoric.

'We said nothing, ' Trump insisted. "I believe that globalization - to be shaped in an open-minded way but also in a fair way - freedom of movement, is a very important element of our economic progress of peace and has been for many, many decades".

Trump has questioned the relevance of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and said other countries need to contribute more. "What went wrong? Angela, what happened?"

The two leaders are due to hold more than two hours of talks followed by a working lunch.

Mr Merkel said she hoped the U.S. and the European Union could resume discussions on a trade agreement and that she had told Mr Trump Germany needed to meet North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spending goals.

"We need to be fair with each other", Merkel said, saying both countries were expecting "that something good comes out of it for their own people". Germany is one of the key anchors of the European Union and its largest economy, and a key player in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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