Merkel And Trump To Set Differences Aside For High-Stakes Meeting On Tuesday

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump are scheduled to meet Tuesday for high-stakes White House meeting.

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump are polar opposites in just about everything — be it in policy making, temperament, and style of leadership. Merkel is as controlled and discerning as Trump is volatile and spontaneous.

It’s not in the least surprising that the two leaders have disagreed on many occasions. In fact, they have criticized each other for months, with none of them pulling any punches.

On Tuesday, Donald Trump and Angela Merkel are to meet for the first time, Bloomberg reports, setting up a possibly contentious encounter that could affect the future of the transatlantic alliance — a partnership that provided stability around the world for decades. With so much at stake, it’s a certainty that governments around the world will be watching the encounter.

“Do I think they are going to become good friends? Probably not. They are very different personalities,” said Charles Kupchan, a past member of the National Security Council and former advisor to Barack Obama on European policy.

“But I do think they have a strong interest, both politically and strategically, in learning how to work together. It is arguably the most important meeting with a foreign leader of Trump’s presidency.”

German officials said that Angela Merkel has been preparing intensively for her meeting with Donald Trump in Washington.

Her preparations include watching some of Trump’s speeches and interviews, including a 1990 interview with Playboy magazine in which he discussed at great length his many controversial ideas, many of which are being implemented now that he is the U.S. president.

Merkel’s staff members have reportedly watched and analyzed Donald Trump’s meetings with other leaders, including Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, and Britain’s Theresa May, in order to determine better how to manage a dialogue with the former reality TV star.

“We have to be prepared for the fact that he does not like to listen for long, that he prefers clear positions and does not want to delve into details,” a senior German official said.

The differences between the two leaders couldn’t be more apparent in regards to making decisions on the economic and foreign front.

Donald Trump has criticized Merkel for allowing more than 1 million immigrants and hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany since 2015, calling the decision a “catastrophic mistake.”

Merkel, for her part, slammed Trump for ordering a temporary ban on refugees as well as immigrants from seven Muslim-dominant countries. In January, she phoned Trump to point out that the Geneva convention obliges the United States to take in war refugees for humanitarian reasons.

Merkel also raised concerns that Trump’s anti-European Union rhetoric could further destabilize the European integration project.

“Europe is in a very fragile, precarious state and Germany is trying to ensure that the European integration project holds together. I suspect the chancellor will want to make this clear to the president,” said Anthony Gardner, former U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

“This is an opportunity to sketch out areas of common interest, to define a positive agenda. But one meeting won’t change the atmosphere on its own,” he added.

The White House says it expects a “robust discussion” between the two leaders on matters relating to EU, security, Russia, trade, and Trump’s pressuring of NATO members to spend two percent of their GDP on defense.

With Angela Merkel running for reelection in September, the meeting with Donald Trump might be potentially damaging to her campaign since political opponents could use the details of the meeting as ammunition to attack her stance on many issues concerning Germany. As such, recent polls show that Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, a staunch critic of Trump, poses a real threat to Angela Merkel’s candidacy, according to Newsweek.

[Featured Image by Johannes Simon/Getty Images]