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Trump, Germany’s Merkel Meet in Oval Office | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US President Donald Trump meets with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

United States President Donald Trump and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks in the White House on Friday in a meeting that would shape the future of the transatlantic alliance and the working relationship between two of the world’s most powerful leaders.

Trump greeted Merkel 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 US president were expected to discuss funding for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and relations with Russia in their first meeting since Trump took office in January.

Both leaders are scheduled to hold a joint press conference around 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT.)

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 NATO member states pay more for their defense needs.

“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.

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.

“The president will be very interested in hearing the chancellor’s views on her experience interacting with Putin,” a senior administration official told reporters.