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Merkel: Trump's G7 rejection 'sobering' and 'depressing'

June 10, 2018

Germany's Angela Merkel sharply criticized Donald Trump's decision to retract his endorsement of the G7 communique. The German chancellor said the EU would continue preparing countermeasures to US metal tariffs.

Merkel, Trump at G7 summit
Image: Reuters/Y. Herman

Germany's Angela Merkel on Sunday chided US President Donald Trump's decision to retract his endorsement of the G7 communique via Twitter, insisting that Germany is determined to stick to it.

In her first interview since the contentious two-day G7 summit in Canada, Merkel told German broadcaster ARD that Trump's "withdrawal via Twitter is of course sobering and a little depressing." The chancellor also announced that the European Union would forge ahead with countermeasures to Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs.

"We won't let ourselves be ripped off again and again," Merkel said, taking on an unusually combative tone. "Instead, we act then too." The bloc is expected to announce its countermeasures to US tariffs on July 1. 

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier chimed in, saying that the "uproar at the G7 summit in Canada has brought the EU even closer together" in an interview with German public radio. He stressed that Germany was "prepared to negotiate trade imbalances" but that talks should be "among friends and partners" not via "mutual confrontation."

He warned Trump that the EU will defend its interests and that the US would ultimately lose out if the US were determined to escalate the trade spat.

Read more: G7 summit fails to calm trade tensions as Trump refuses to endorse joint statement

'Arduous negotiation'

Hours after leaving the G7 summit on Saturday, Trump took to Twitter to assault "false statements" by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and instructed US representatives to renege on the US' endorsement of the joint communique. He went on to announce that the US would be looking to impose tariffs on car imports. 

When asked why she appeared so calm following the fiasco, the chancellor said that escalating the rhetoric wouldn't make things any better.

Read more: US-German conflicts — what you need to know

Merkel said she first found out about Trump's decision on the flight back from Canada. She described the experience as "sobering," after Trump dashed what had been an "arduously negotiated" declaration.

Trump's G7 turnaround

Relations to continue

Despite Trump's withdrawal and decision to double down on restricting foreign goods entering the US market, Merkel insisted that she would continue to hold talks and work together with the president.

"There are still good reasons to fight for the trans-Atlantic partnership," she said, adding that the current round of trade tariffs that the US and European Union have imposed on each other did not signal the end of a partnership.

Read more: Merkel: Europe can no longer rely on US and Britain

Nevertheless, Saturday's events only reinforced the chancellor's commitment to forging a stronger, more unified European Union. Europe must take its fate into its own hands and no longer "imprudently" follow the US, Merkel said.
Trump and Merkel are set to meet again at next month's NATO leaders' summit in Brussels. 

Trump goes it alone: Europe at a loss?

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ng,dm/amp (dpa, AFP)