German Chancellor Angela Merkel will attempt to charm U.S. President Donald Trump during their first face-to-face meeting Tuesday at the White House.
German magazine Der Spiegel reports Merkel will use a “dual strategy” by deploying a charm offensive while showing she has “a nastier side.” Merkel’s aim is to build a closer relationship with Trump while warning Germany is armed for a trade war with the U.S. if necessary.
Merkel and Trump will discuss Germany’s NATO spending, the situation in Ukraine, Syrian refugees and the state of the European Union, among other issues.
“The president will be very interested in hearing the chancellor’s views on her experience interacting with Putin,” a U.S. official told Reuters. “He’s going to be very interested in hearing her insights on what it’s like to deal with the Russians.”
Trump has expressed mixed feelings toward Merkel in the past. He recently said Merkel was “by far the most important European leader,” but called her decision to open the door to a million migrants in 2015 a “catastrophic mistake.”
“I think she made one very catastrophic mistake, and that was taking all of these illegals,” Trump said in a January interview with The Sunday Times and German tabloid Bild. “And nobody even knows where they come from. So I think she made a catastrophic mistake, very bad mistake.”
Merkel was one of former President Barack Obama’s closest allies. She has dodged questions on Trump in the past but said she wants to “exchange ideas with respect” after Trump’s inauguration in January.
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