Merkel spokesman: Germany still seeking stronger US ties

Berlin remains committed to strong trans-Atlantic relations, but Chancellor Angela Merkel’s suggestion after meetings with President Donald Trump that Europe can no longer entirely rely on the U.S. “speaks for itself,” her spokesman said Monday

Merkel’s comments Sunday came after a Group of Seven summit at which the Europeans couldn’t reach agreement with Trump on climate change.

“The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days,” she said during the election campaign event in Bavaria. “And so all I can say is that we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”

Merkel also emphasized the continued need for friendly relations with the U.S. and others, and spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday that the chancellor is “a convinced trans-Atlanticist.”

U.S.-German relations “are a strong pillar of our foreign and security policy, and Germany will continue working to strengthen these relations,” Seibert said. “Precisely because they are so important, it’s right to name differences honestly.”

Following the end of the G-7 meeting in Sicily on Saturday, Merkel was sharply critical of Trump’s decision not to join the other countries in reiterating support for the 2015 Paris Agreement that aims to slow global warming, calling the climate talks “very unsatisfactory.”

“Here is a situation where it’s six, seven if you include the EU, against one,” she said. “That means there are so far no signs whether the United States of America will remain in the Paris agreement or not.”

Trump did not hold a news conference after the summit but later tweeted that he would make his “final decision” on the Paris accord this week.

Germany has also bristled at criticism from Trump over NATO defence spending and the country’s large trade surplus, and it’s also an election year, for Merkel who is seeking her fourth term as chancellor in September.

Her main challenger, the Social Democrat’s chancellor candidate Martin Schulz, was even more outspoken in his comments about the G-7 and NATO meetings last week, saying Sunday night the summits made clear Trump was a “president of the United States of America who wants to humiliate others, who presents himself like an authoritarian ruler.”

“Europe is the answer, and stronger co-operation between the European countries at all levels is the answer to Donald Trump,” Schulz said on ARD public television. “And above all else we must not submit to Trump’s arms-race logic.”

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Associated Press Writer Geir Moulson contributed to this story

David Rising, The Associated Press

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