Angela Merkel and Donald Trump, seated and shaking hands (© Evan Vucci/AP Images)
President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had their second White House meeting. (© Evan Vucci/AP Images)

President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meeting at the White House on April 27, discussed trade differences and agreed Europe must contribute more to its own defense.

The president thanked Merkel for Germany’s support in applying maximum pressure on North Korea to abandon nuclear arms and voiced hope that his upcoming talks with Kim Jong Un will lead to a denuclearized peninsula that benefits the entire world.

In the Oval Office, Trump called Merkel a “very extraordinary woman” and congratulated her on her election to a fourth term.

In a nearly 40-minute news conference after a working lunch, Merkel said, “The trans-Atlantic ties for us are of crucial, indeed, existential importance.” The German chancellor said she was “delighted” that newly confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who was at the meeting, will soon be in Berlin.

She said the U.S. decision whether to end on May 1 the European Union’s exemption on new steel and aluminum tariffs was in the president’s hands, but trade discussions will continue.

Noting that the United States has a $151 billion trade deficit in goods with the European Union, Trump said, “We must have a fair and reciprocal trading relationship with our friends and partners.”

Trump said NATO’s European members must honor their commitments to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product “and hopefully much more” on defense. The U.S. has “a far greater burden than we should have.”

Merkel said Germany, which has the second-highest amount of defense spending among NATO members, will boost its defense spending in 2019 to 1.3 percent of GDP. “We haven’t yet met the target … but we are getting closer,” she said.