Former US president Barack Obama was in Berlin on Friday to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Waving to cameras as the two exited the German Chancellery together, the pair did not stop for photos or take questions from journalists, stressing that the meeting was not a political event.
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said he “would firmly reject” the impression that the meeting was a direct signal to current US President Donald Trump. The pair have already met once since the end of Obama’s time in office, at a conference in 2017.
Angel Merkel is a leader that has always made her feelings clear.
And now it seems the German chancellor cannot hide her feelings towards US presidents.
This is in stark contrast to the reception she has given President Donald Trump in the past, with an awkward stare across a table being a recent example.
Obama, 57, has even said Ms Merkel was one of his ‘favourite partners’ during his time in office and his last international trip as president was to Germany in November 2016.
A year later, the former Democratic Party leader told a crowd in Berlin of the ‘outstanding work’ across the world Ms Merkel had undertaken.
Obama arrived in Germany yesterday and made a speech to 14,000 people at the World Leadership Summit in Lanxess Arena, Cologne, German newspaper Bild reported.
Today, the pair were believed to have discussed Trans-Atlantic relations during the hour and a half exchange – and Ms Merkel showed her appreciation with a hug and a kiss on Obama’s cheek.
It comes as a turbulent relationship has evolved between Germany and the US, with President Trump lashing out at Ms Merkel for lowering the country’s military spending to below Nato targets.
The latest German budget plans, revealed last month, showed defence spending drop well below the two per cent of GDP expected from Nato members.
US ambassador Richard Grenell said the cuts were a ‘worrisome signal’, while President Trump repeatedly accused Germany of freeloading on US military might.
But Ms Merkel rejected the criticism, saying Germany will not cut foreign aid to raise military spending.
And this month, President Trump – while complaining about how Germany does not pay its fair share – claimed his father was from the country.
Trump repeated an error he has made in public at least twice, this time adding to the story of his father’s supposed European birth.
He made the claim while seated next to Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Norwegian politician who has publicly praised the president for encouraging allies to spend more on defence.
The president said: ‘I have great respect for Angela and I have great respect for the country.’
He added: ‘My father is German, right? Was German.
‘Born in a very wonderful place in Germany, so I have a great feeling for Germany.’
But Fred Trump, the president’s father, was born in New York – it was his grandfather Friederich Trump who was born in the German village of Kallstadt.