- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 18, 2017

President Trump on Saturday defended the success of his first face-to-face meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, dismissing a barrage of critical news accounts that describe it as “awkward.”

“Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” Mr. Trump said Saturday morning via his personal Twitter account.

News reports of the the meeting and a joint press conference Friday at the White House were dominated by descriptions of “awkward” moments between the two leaders, including the president’s quip that he and Ms. Merkel had “something in common” in being wiretapped by U.S. spies.

Mr. Trump was referring to revelation in 2013 that President Obama authorized National Security Agency eavesdropping on her and his claim that Mr. Obama did the same to him during the 2016 presidential campaign.

National Public Radio declared the meeting “The Axis of Awkward.”

U.S. News and World Report dubbed it “Trump’s Awkward Merkel Summit.”

In the tweets, Mr. Trump went on to hammer home his complaint that Germany does not pay enough for its own defense, a point he made during the joint press conference.

“Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!” he said on Twitter.

At the press conference, Ms. Merkel reiterated that Germany was committed to increasing defense spending in Germany and paying two percent of the country’s GDP to fund NATO, a figure NATO members agreed to in 2006.

“Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States. These nations must pay what they owe,” the president said at the press conference. “During our meeting, I thanked Chancellor Merkel for the German government’s commitment to increase defense spending and work toward contributing at least 2 percent of GDP.”

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