President Donald Trump stated on Wednesday that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have a “very, very good relationship,” only several hours after accusing Germany of having an “inappropriate” relationship with Russia.
CNBC reported that Trump and Merkel met separately from the other world leaders during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Belgium.
However, the two leaders used a more friendly tone, despite Trump’s earlier accusation that Germany is “captive to Russia” because of a pipeline deal.
“We have a very, very good relationship with the chancellor. We have a tremendous relationship with Germany,” Trump told reporters, adding that he and Merkel discussed military spending and trade.
Merkel, who spoke in German, said the two countries are “good partners and we wish to cooperate in the future.”
Trump said the two had discussed the Russian pipeline he’d mentioned earlier but did not elaborate.
Trump, who was speaking at a press conference Wednesday morning ahead of a two-day NATO summit, told the treaty organization’s representatives that a number of oil and gas deals had given Moscow far too much influence over Germany.
“Germany is totally controlled by Russia … They will be getting between 60 and 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline, and you tell me if that is appropriate because I think it’s not,” the President said.
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is an $11 billion project directly connecting Germany with Russia, which critics believe will make Europe more dependent on Russian gas. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is to meet with Trump later today, has insisted it is a private commercial venture.
Trump has opposed the project from its very beginning, saying that the relationship between Moscow and Berlin was “inappropriate” and the energy project “should have never been allowed to have happened.”
“Billions and billions of dollars being paid to the country we are supposed to be protecting you against,” Trump said to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “Ultimately, Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas,” the President claimed, equating natural gas supply to political control.
As a response to Trump, Merkel said that she grew up in East Germany, which was literally captive to the Soviet Union, but said the country is now “united in freedom” and able to make independent decisions.