WASHINGTON — After repeatedly taking aim at German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her country’s refugee policy, President Trump will host Merkel at the White House later this month.
Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed to reporters on board Air Force One today that Merkel will be in Washington on March 14th.
“I’m not going to get ahead of their conversations, but we’ll certainly provide readouts after that meeting,” Sander said. “And I believe we plan to have a press conference with that, and they can address that directly.”
In a mid-January interview wit the Times of London and Bild, Trump said Merkel “made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know, taking all of the people from wherever they come from.” During the campaign, he slammed Hillary Clinton as wanting “to be America’s Angela Merkel.”
The day before Trump’s inauguration, the White House released a readout of a call between President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband, Joachim Sauer, “to express appreciation for their personal friendship and efforts to forge deeper partnership between Germany and the United States over the last eight years.”
“The president thanked Chancellor Merkel for her strong, courageous, and steady leadership. The president and chancellor agreed that close cooperation between Washington and Berlin and between the United States and Europe are essential to ensuring a sturdy trans-Atlantic bond, a rules-based international order, and the defense of values that have done so much to advance human progress in our countries and around the world,” the Obama administration said on its final day. “Given their eight years of friendship and partnership, the president noted that it was fitting that his final call with a foreign leader was with Chancellor Merkel.”
On Jan. 28, Trump and Merkel spoke by phone in “an extensive telephone conversation covering a range of issues, including NATO, the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, relations with Russia, and the Ukraine crisis,” the White House said. “Both leaders affirmed the importance of close German-American cooperation to our countries’ security and prosperity and expressed their desire to deepen already close German-American relations in the coming years.”
“The president and chancellor also agreed on the NATO Alliance’s fundamental importance to the broader transatlantic relationship and its role in ensuring the peace and stability of our North Atlantic community,” the readout continued. “In this vein, the leaders recognized that NATO must be capable of confronting 21st century threats and that our common defense requires appropriate investment in military capabilities to ensure all Allies are contributing their fair share to our collective security. The leaders agreed on the need to strengthen already robust cooperation in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, and to work to stabilize conflict areas in the Middle East and North Africa.”
Trump accepted Merkel’s invitation to attend the July G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, and said at the time Merkel would be welcomed in Washington “soon.”
Merkel’s spokesman said that call included the chancellor expressing her displeasure with Trump’s executive order, since frozen by the courts, blocking travel from seven Muslim-majority countries and a freeze of the refugee program; the spokesman said she “explained” the refugee convention to Trump.
“The chancellor regrets the U.S. government’s entry ban against refugees and the citizens of certain countries,” Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement. “She is convinced that the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain origin or a certain religion.”
“The … refugee convention requires the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds. All signatory states are obligated to do. The German government explained this policy in their call yesterday.”
Vice President Mike Pence met with Merkel at last month’s Munich Security Conference. The White House said the two “reaffirmed the lasting partnership between the United States and Germany and committed to continued close cooperation on a wide range of global challenges,” speaking about terrorism, NATO, Ukraine and Afghanistan.