|Good evening. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
|Merkel Visits the White House
Today, President Donald Trump welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House.
Both heads of state attended a roundtable discussion on vocational training with U.S. and German business leaders.
Following the roundtable, President Trump and Chancellor Merkel held a joint press conference and took a few questions from the press.
Highlights from the joint press conference:
- President Trump reiterated the United States’ commitment to NATO, though making it clear he expected member countries to increase military spending to the 2% of GDP requirement.
- President Trump also showed appreciation for the military alliance with Germany particularly when it comes to operations in Afghanistan.
- President Trump pointed to “shared values” between the German and American peoples, and spoke of a “very hopeful future” between the two countries.
- Trump also assured the Chancellor that the United States intends to “respect traditional institutions.”
- On the same note, Trump said he did not consider himself an isolationist, but a “free and fair trader.”
- Trump’s Freudian slip:
“We’re a very strong company… I mean country.”
– President Trump, Joint Press Conference 3/17
- Chancellor Merkel spoke at length about the important role the United States has played in Germany’s economic rise, mentioning the Marshall Plan and the U.S. role in promoting German reunification.
- Merkel called for focusing on political solutions to crises in Syria, Libya and Ukraine.
- Importantly, Merkel said that beyond the Ukraine issue, it is important to improve relations with Russia.
- While it is clear that the two heads of state do not agree on many issues, particularly when it comes to refugee assistance, the Chancellor did say, however, that in their meeting there was a “very good exchange of ideas.”
Both German and American reporters were able to ask a few questions of the two leaders. On the American side, questions about Trump’s style were asked to Merkel and questions about the AHCA to Trump.
The German press was much more pointed in its questioning, asking Merkel about Trump’s previous comments about the European Union. To Trump, they asked about the wiretapping claims and about the announcement by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Tillerson Visits Japan, South Korea and China
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been traveling in Asia. He arrived first in Japan, where he held a number of meetings and spoke of a need to take “different approach” to North Korea.
Tillerson added that the military option is on the table when dealing with North Korea. This language prefaces the possibility of a preemptive strike on North Korea to quell their nuclear program.
He is now in Seoul, South Korea and heads next to Beijing, China.
Of particular interest is that this trip has ended a decades long tradition of the Secretary of State taking with him a pool of reporters. On this trip to Asia, the Secretary has accommodated only one reporter, from the Independent Journal Review.
Other reporters have had to tail the Secretary and fly commercially.