Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:49PM
US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 17, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 17, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump has met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington, discussing a range of issues from the alliance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the crisis in Ukraine to the European policies regarding immigration and refugees.

During a meeting in the capital on Friday, Trump threw his full support behind the NATO alliance, however, complained that some member states were not contributing enough and defaulted on paying their dues.

"I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense," Trump told a joint press conference after the meeting. "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 US president thanked Merkel "for the German government's commitment to increase defense spending and work toward contributing at least 2 percent of GDP" to the NATO alliance.

The Ukrainian crisis

Trump and the German chancellor also agreed on the need for a "peaceful solution" to the conflict in Ukraine.

The US president expressed his appreciation for Merkel's counsel and partnership in efforts "to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, where we ideally seek a peaceful solution."

Merkel for his part said that, “There has to be a safe and secure solution for Ukraine, but relationship with Russia has to improve as well.”   

Immigration and refugees

At the Friday meeting, Trump referred to immigration as a topic on which Washington and Berlin have vastly different views, noting that the focus must be on national security.

“Immigration is a privilege, not a right, and the safety of our citizens must always come first,” he said, adding that the US will respect historic institutions and the “right of free people to manage their own destiny.”

The German chancellor stressed that close cooperation with the US on immigration issues should be based on "values of democracy, freedom, respect for the rule of law and human dignity, regardless of origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political belief."

The meeting between the two leaders was the first since Trump took the helm at the White House.