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Trump's warnings to Merkel on trade and defense

Merkel looks down at her podium while Trump speaks during a joint press conference
President Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Germany's Angela Merkel. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump sent two strong signals at his joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday: he railed against NATO allies, like Germany, that don't spend the mandatory 2% of GDP on defense, and also touted how successful the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum have been.

Why it matters, per Axios World Editor, Dave Lawler: The E.U.’s exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs expires Tuesday. Merkel's key priority for her D.C. visit is to get a longer-term exemption. She may end up getting it — but Trump is sending some pretty strong messages here.

Other highlights:

  • Trade deficit with Europe: Trump says it's been unfair, but said he doesn't blame Merkel, Germany or the European Union for the imbalance. "I blame my predecessors."
  • The Iran nuclear deal: Trump said the U.S. must ensure the current regime does “not get even close to a nuclear weapon.”
    • Merkel's take: She called the deal "anything but perfect," but said it's up to Trump to determine whether the U.S. will ultimately exit.
  • North Korea summit: “I think I have a responsibility” to aid in the negotiation of a deal between North Korea and South Korea, Trump said. But added, "Maximum pressure will continue until denuclearization occurs ... I look forward to our meeting, which will be quite something."
  • Ronny Jackson's withdrawal as VA Secretary nominee: Dr. Ronny Jackson is “one of the finest men” I’ve ever met, said Trump, and called him “an American hero” for exposing the system in Washington as mean and unfair.