Relations between the United States and Germany veered further toward crisis yesterday as President Donald Trump complained about the US trade deficit with Germany and said it must pay more for the Nato military alliance.
His censure follows a volley of criticism from Germany after the president concluded his first official tour abroad on Sunday.
“We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on Nato,” Trump said on Twitter. “Very bad for US. This will change.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel made waves in Berlin, warning that the United States and Britain may no longer be completely reliable partners.
“Transatlantic ties are of paramount importance to us, but the current situation gives more reasons for us to take our destiny in our own hands,” she said yesterday.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel was blunter, slamming the US president’s short-sighted policies which, he said, have weakened the West and hurt European interests.
During his trip, Trump rejected pressure from G7 allies to commit to abiding by the 2015 Paris climate accord and berated 23 of Nato’s 28 members, including Germany, for still not paying what they should be towards funding the alliance.
Days earlier, in Saudi Arabia, Trump had presided over the single largest US arms deal in American history, worth $110-billion (R1.4-trillion) over the next decade. It included ships, tanks and anti-missile systems.
Gabriel said: “Anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones and who does not want to politically resolve religious conflicts, is putting peace in Europe at risk.
“The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union,” he said.