- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2017

President Trump welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House Friday for meetings expected to focus on trade and security, although hanging over the talks were Mr. Trump’s harsh campaign rhetoric that she “ruined” her country.

Mr. Trump greeted Ms. Merkel as she emerged from black Chevrolet Suburban at the White House’s West Wing portico. The two smiled and shook hands before Mr. Trump escorted the German leader inside.

After their initial sit-down in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump and Ms. Merkel said the talks went well.

“We talked about lots of things,” Mr. Trump told reporters as photographers snapped pictures.

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump frequently slammed Ms. Merkel’s open-door policy for refugees. He said the influx of Middle East and North African refugees was ruining Germany.

In sharp contrast to Ms. Merkel’s stance on refugees, Mr. Trump’s has attempted to temporarily slam the door on refugees and pause visits from some terrorist-threat countries. But those moves have been tied up in federal courts.

Ms. Merkel did not respond and later congratulated Mr. Trump on his election victory. German observers said Ms. Merkel was accustomed to insults for her dealings with European politicians.

However, the opposition party in Germany has denounced Mr. Trump as a hatemonger.

Ms. Merkel faces a tough re-election in six months against that opposition party, the Social Democrats, which has been gaining momentum.

Mr. Trump and Ms. Merkel’s first face-to-face meeting is expected to focus on trade, another area where Germans are concerned about the effect of the president’s get-tough policies.

The talks also are expected to include the European Union’s response to Brexit, the future of NATO and the threats from Russia and North Korea.

The meetings began with a roundtable discussion on workforce development and vocational training programs, which included business leaders from the U.S. and Germany.

At the table were top executives from German companies BMW, Siemens and Schaeffler, a manufacturer of bearings for automotive, aerospace and industrial use.

The U.S. companies included Dow Chemical, IBM and customer relations management firm Salesforce.

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