- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2017

Standing beside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Trump pushed back Friday against the perception in Europe that he was pursuing isolationist trade policies, declaring that he was a “fair trader.”

“I don’t believe in isolationist policy. I believe in fair policy,” Mr. Trump said in response to a question from a German news reporter at a joint press conference at the White House.

Mr. Trump said that the U.S. has been the victim of bad trade deals for years that have driven up debt and destroyed jobs.

Trade has topped the agenda during Mr. Trump and Ms. Merkel’s first face-to-face meeting. The two leaders are on opposite sides of issues including immigration and refugees. But they sought common ground, they said, on trade that benefits both their citizens.

“We are a very powerful country. We are a very strong country,” he said, adding that America would be in a stronger position in world markets.

He also pushed back against the reporters’ question about why he opposes “diversity” in news media by making charges of “fake news.”

Mr. Trump said that he didn’t know what news outlet the reporter represented but that the claim he was an isolationist was “another example of false news.”

Mr. Trump and Ms. Merkel said they also agreed on a broad range of issues, including working together to defeat the Islamic State and other radical Islamic terrorist groups and seeking a resolution to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Ms. Merkel said that she was glad to hear the president say during their meeting that he is committed to NATO, which some European leaders doubted because of Mr. Trump’s claim during the campaign that the security alliance was “obsolete.”

She also said that Germany was committed to increasing defense spending and paying 2 percent of the country’s GDP to fund NATO.

Mr. Trump has argued that the U.S. shoulders too much of the responsibility for defending NATO allies. He repeated those claims with Ms. Merkel by his side.

“It’s unfair to the United States,” said the president. “These nations must pay what they owe.”

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