Face to Face
When President Trump has his first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House on Friday, it will be a big clash of policy, temperament, and governing styles. Merkel, Europe's longest-serving and most powerful leader, is unassuming, seasoned, diplomatic, and an astute observer; Trump is brash, new to the job and public policy, and inclined to make shows of strength. Expectations for the meeting are not high.
The main topics of discussion are expected to be trade and the economy. Trump will urge Germany to spend more on its national defense, to meet NATO obligations, and ask about Merkel's long experience dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, White House officials say. Merkel will gauge Trump's openness on multilateral issues like climate change and financial regulation, according to German officials, and gently press Trump to reconsider his proposal to tax U.S. imports — a potential blow to Germany, which had a $50 billion trade surplus with the U.S. last year.
Trump has slammed Merkel on issues like immigration and refugees, but both leaders are expected to keep their tête-à-tête cordial. "I believe that direct conversation is always much better than talking about each other," Merkel said Monday.