President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel "have a good and productive relationship," and there is no feud going on between the two leaders over NATO, trade, or other issues, Germany's ambassador to the United States, Peter Wittig, said Wednesday.
"No, no, no," Wittig told CNN "New Day" co-anchor Alisyn Camerota, when she asked him if it was "fair" to characterize their relationship as a feud. "They met in Washington extensively. They met in Europe. They are on the phone frequently on all of the international agenda."
"That's a good relationship and there are few leaders as committed to the transatlantic relationship as Merkel is to the friendship of the United States," Wittig continued. "That has not changed with President Trump."
Camerota, however, argued that Trump's recent tweet, criticizing the United States' trade deficit and Germany's NATO and defense payments point to a feud.
"Chancellor Merkel, she called a couple days ago on the Europeans to take their fate in their own hands," Wittig responded. "She did this before in the face of crisis that Europe is facing. Brexit and Russian assertiveness. She also thinks it is important to discuss honestly where we have differences of opinion and one difference of opinion that emerged in the past days was the issue of climate change."
Germany also subscribes "to a fair burden sharing in NATO," said Wittig, and has committed to a pledge to its defense budget, raising it last year by 9 percent.
"We are committed to incrementally raise the defense spending over the next years in line with what NATO leaders decided last year," said Wittig. "We don't owe membership dues to NATO. We are paying up on our membership."
The German government is discussing NATO with the Trump administration, he continued, and has been assured by several members, such as Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the United States is "fully committed and 100 percent committed to NATO."
But even with a productive relationship, that does not mean the two countries should ignore their differences. Wittig said, when Camerota asked if "thinly veiled" comments from Merkel or Trump should be ignored.
"[Press Secretary Sean] Spicer had a very good statement about the relationship of the two leaders, and he said and this is what we are saying, they have a productive relationship," Wittig said. "That does not mean we should sweep our differences under the carpet. We are discussing them openly like the question of climate change. We think that is an important issue we need to discuss with the U.S."
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