Trump and Merkel didn't shake hands in Oval Office photo op

  • Trump and Merkel didn't shake hands in Oval Office photo op

Trump and Merkel didn't shake hands in Oval Office photo op

A White House official said Merkel's staff reached out to Ivanka Trump about setting up the meeting.

Addressing the claims, the Republican joked about that he and Mrs Merkel had "something in common", referring to reports the United States bugged her phone under the Obama's presidency. The US President, however, ignored the suggestion and continued smiling at the cameras with his hands to himself.

There was a moment of silence, a confused look from Merkel, and then raucous laughter.

"Nice friendly reporter", he remarked. "We need to be fair with each other", said Merkel, adding that on her view, the president stands up for American interests.

He sought to turn the explosive charge into a light joke when he said to Merkel, "At least we have something in common, perhaps", referring to 2013 reports that the USA was monitoring Merkel's cellphone conversations. (SOUNDBITE) KEN KAMEN, PRESIDENT MERCADIEN ASSET MANAGEMENT, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "For Chancellor Merkel, it's very important that trade continues uninterrupted and un-tarrified".

Mrs Merkel needs to walk a diplomatic tightrope, building a relationship with Mr Trump without appearing to sacrifice her own values or disappoint her supporters as she prepares for an election at home seeking a fourth term as chancellor.

Trump's fourth joint press conference with a foreign leader, which followed the meeting, was also one of his most tense after Trump and Merkel clashed over major policy differences and the basic role of their countries in the world. He had criticised North Atlantic Treaty Organisation during his election campaign lashing out at members for not paying their "fair share" for their defence. Trump, like Obama before him - who said that he was "aggravated" by "free riders" in a 2016 interview with The Atlantic - has demanded that NATO members pay their fair share.

"Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the US".

'This is not a financial transaction, where North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries pay the U.S. to defend them.

Trump also reaffirmed the United States' "strong support" for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation but reiterated his position that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies need to "pay their fair share" for the cost of defense. He accused her of "ruining Germany" by accepting Syrian refugees and frequently called Democratic rival Hillary Clinton "America's Angela Merkel".

"We want fairness." Questioned by the German press, however, Trump vehemently denied that he supports an isolationist policy.

Spicer was also defiant Friday, telling reporters, "I don't think we regret anything".

"It's always better to talk with each other than about each other", Merkel told regional newspaper Saarbruecker Zeitung. "That's something of which I'm deeply convinced". However, some observers questioned whether her business credentials were sufficient to earn her a place at the meeting.