Berlin/Washington – German Chancellor, Angela Merkel’s first face-to-face meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, will have to wait a few days because of severe weather in the Monday forecast for Washington.
White House spokesperson, Sean Spicer, said the decision was made after consultations between the White House and the chancellor’s office.
The postponement, which Merkel’s office in Berlin also announced, came just before Merkel was to depart for Washington.
The flight was scheduled to land at Washington’s international airport just a few hours after the storm is due to begin late Monday.
The National Weather Service issued a warning for several states from Virginia all the way to Maine in the upper north-east corner of the U.S, saying the storm is packing heavy snow, ice and strong winds.
“More than 3,500 flights scheduled for Tuesday already have been cancelled.” Spicer said the White House meeting now is set for Friday.
Merkel plans to warn Trump about the dangers of protectionism and isolation under his “America First’’ trade stance when she meets Trump.
“The United States is a central trading partner, not just for Germany, but for the whole of the EU,’’ Merkel said on Monday, following talks with Germany’s top business groups in Munich.
“This trade is an advantage for both sides,’’ Merkel said, adding that it was better to have direct talks rather than talking about each other.
The chancellor and Trump have had a fractious start to their relationship, clashing on a range of issues, from trade and the currency market to the role of multinational organisations.
In an interview in January, Trump called Merkel’s open door refugee policy a “catastrophic mistake.”
Figures released on Monday also show Germany’s financial contribution to the U.S.-led NATO military alliance falling short of Trump’s demands that European members of the pact boost their defence spending to help ease the burden on Washington.
Germany’s defence spending in 2016 stood at 1.2 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP), which was a slight improvement on 2015, when the figure was 1.18 per cent, according to the alliance’s annual report.
However, the figure is well below the 2 per cent mark required for NATO member states.
Merkel plans to “clearly’’ set out her points in the meeting with Trump, her spokesperson Steffen Seibert said.
“Talking together instead of talking about one another that will be my motto of the visit,’’ said Merkel.
The German leader’s concerns about economic nationalism and protectionism under the Trump administration were echoed by leaders of Germany’s powerful business groups.
“Trade relations are not a one-way street, but about a mutual give-and-take,’’ said the president of the German Employers’ Federation, Ingo Kramer.
The chief of Germany’s Federation of Industry, Dieter Kempf, called for caution in dealing with Trump, saying it was still not clear how much electoral rhetoric is in the president’s Twitter messages and how much is about negotiating.
Merkel is to be accompanied to the White House by the chief executives of Siemens, BMW and auto parts supplier Schaeffler.
About 750,000 U.S. jobs are linked to German corporate investment in the world’s biggest economy, while hundreds of thousands of jobs in Germany are dependent on U.S. companies, the chancellor said.
In 2016, the U.S. was also the biggest market for products bearing the “Made in Germany’’ label.
Merkel’s talks in Washington will also include a round table discussion on Germany’s vocational training programme, her spokesperson said.
The chancellor met U.S. Vice President, Mike Pence, at a security conference in Munich last month and spoke to Trump on the telephone shortly after his inauguration.