German Chancellor Angela Merkel is no longer describing Donald Trump’s U.S. as a “friend” in campaign literature for the country's elections in September, and divisions are expected to widen between the leaders at the G20 summit this week.
Merkel’s conservative party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU/CSU) four years ago described the U.S. as Germany’s “most important friend outside Europe,” and the relationship between the countries as the “cornerstone” of Germany’s international relations.
However, the party has dropped the amicable language from campaign literature ahead of federal elections, after a cooling in the relationship between the countries since Trump replaced Barack Obama as president. In its new manifesto the CDU/CSU refers to the relationship as Germany’s most important “partnership” outside Europe.
Trump and Merkel will meet for the third time at the G20 summit in Hamburg Thursday, where differences over issues including trade, migration, defense spending and climate change are likely to come to the fore.
Trump repeatedly criticized Merkel on the campaign trail, accusing her of “ruining” Germany with her migration policies—the chancellor temporarily had an open door policy on Syrian refugees, in contrast to Trump's anti-refugee rhetoric. He also criticized what he called Germany's unfair trade policies and threatened to put tariffs on German automobiles, and demanded a greater financial contribution to NATO from coalition partners, including Germany.
After Trump’s maiden trip to Europe in May to attend the NATO summit in Brussels, and the G7 summit in Italy, Merkel declared that Europe could no longer rely on the U.S.
The manifesto repeats some of Merkel’s comments made after the meeting.
"The times in which we could fully rely on others are, to a certain extent, in the past. We Europeans must take our fate into our own hands more decisively than we have in the past," the program reads.
It pledges support for NATO but says that Europe has to take greater responsibility for its own defense. It scraps the 2013 pledge to strengthen economic ties with the U.S., and pledges to “reinvigorate the relationship with France,” whose new president, Emmanuel Macron, has been critical of Trump.
At a press conference in Berlin Monday for the launch of her party’s manifesto, Merkel declared that there remain "a whole series of thorny issues" within in the G20.
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