Berlin (dpa) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that she welcomes any dialogue between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and hopes that nuclear disarmament will be on the agenda.
“When there is dialogue, it is basically good for everyone – especially when there is dialogue between these two countries,” Merkel said at her annual summer press conference in Berlin.
The chancellor’s comment came less than 24 hours after a White House spokeswoman announced that Trump planned to invite Putin to the White House this autumn and four days after the US and Russian leaders held their first bilateral summit in Helsinki.
“We have to get used to the fact that meetings between the president of the United States and the president of Russia will become a normality,” Merkel said.
Trump’s invitation for Putin to visit Washington later this year comes amid confusion over what exactly the two agreed during their private, two-hour meeting on Monday. Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told a Russian broadcaster that Putin and Trump had expressed support for preserving the INF and New START disarmament treaties.
“Both spoke in favour of keeping these two documents in place,” Antonov said.
Merkel said she hoped Putin and Trump would discuss nuclear disarmament in their next meeting, noting that the US and Russia hold more than 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
The German chancellor also offered her thoughts on the role of the European Union on the world’s stage, saying she could understand calls for the 28-member bloc to take a more prominent role, and that “holding Europe together” would be a task “of particular importance in the coming years.”
“I believe that … we can no longer rely on the United States as a superpower,” Merkel said.
The chancellor said that she would continue to advocate for a united European Union, noting that Trump’s tenure had placed the trans-Atlantic relationship “heavily under pressure.”
During his visit to Europe last week, Trump described the European Union as a “foe” and called Germany “a captive of Russia” for collaborating on a pipeline project to supply Germany with Russian natural gas.