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Trump to Merkel: I am Not Isolationist… Immigration Not a Right | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet at the White House on Friday/ AFP

Washington – US President Donald Trump asserted on Friday in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel he was not an “isolationist.”

In a joint press conference with the German chancellor at the White House, Trump said: “I’m not an isolationist. I’m a free trader, but I’m also a fair trader. And free trade has led to a lot of bad things happening,” at the level of debts and deficits.

Trump called on NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense.

“Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years, and it is very unfair to the United States. These nations must pay what they owe,” he said.

Tackling the issue of immigration, the US president said countries must protect their citizens from those who seek to spread terrorism, extremism and violence inside their borders.

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

For her part, Merkel was keen to delicately choose her words, saying she was seeking to build new relations with the US president and that she prefers a first personal, one-on-one meeting and an exchange of views.

The German chancellor said the two leaders were able to talk about Afghanistan, Syria and Libya.

“Germany is going to step up its work and is going to continue its work in Afghanistan and also in Syria…We’re going to work on political solutions in Syria, but also in Libya,” she said.

In a separate development, the US administration stepped up its verbal tone vis-à-vis North Korea’s nuclear and missiles program.

On Friday, Trump wrote on his Twitter account: “North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been “playing” the United States for years. China has done little to help!”

The president’s tweets came only a few hours after his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Washington’s “policy of strategic patience has ended,” asserting that his country would place all options on the table if North Korea does not stop its nuclear development.