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German chancellor Angela Merkel is set to visit Washington on March 14 for her first meeting with US President Donald Trump, with the future of their transatlantic alliance the subject of widespread concern.
The meeting of the western world’s two most powerful leaders comes after a difficult start to their relations over trade, security, migration and media freedom.
A German official confirmed the visit reported earlier by news agencies, which cited a US official.
The news comes days after senior Trump officials, including vice-president Michael Pence, travelled to Europe to reassure European counterparts that the US remained committed to Nato and supported the EU.
The message comes in the midst of European concerns that Mr Trump might seek to implement isolationist, protectionist and nationalist policies that he touted on the campaign trail. Ms Merkel initially responded to his election with a pointed message promising cooperation on the basis of “common values”, including democracy and the rule of law.
In January, the new president and Ms Merkel spoke on the telephone and issued a joint statement in which they underscored the importance of Nato. Later Ms Merkel criticised Mr Trump’s short-lived travel ban on visitors from seven Muslim countries. She has also repeatedly emphasised the importance of a free press in response to questions about Mr Trump’s assaults on the media.
The proposed bilateral meeting comes weeks after Mr Trump received his first foreign leaders, Britain’s Theresa May and Japan’s Shinzo Abe. But the cautious German chancellor indicated she was in no rush to see Mr Trump before the ground could be laid for talks.
The two leaders are likely to focus on international issues, including the global economy, trade, the fight against Islamic State, Nato and ties with Russia and China.
Mr Trump is due to visit Germany for the first time as president in July, when he attends the G20 industrialised countries’ summit in Hamburg.