Trump meets with Merkel after calling Germany 'captive' to Russia

Trump meets with Merkel after calling Germany 'captive' to Russia
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpReporters defend CNN's Acosta after White House says he 'disrespected' Trump with question Security costs of Trump visit to Scotland sparks outrage among Scottish citizens Ex-CIA officer: Prosecution of Russians indicted for DNC hack 'ain't ever going to happen' MORE on Wednesday said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have a "very, very good relationship," just hours after targeting Germany, claiming it had an "inappropriate" relationship with Russia. 

Trump and Merkel met apart from other world leaders on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Belgium. The two leaders struck a more conciliatory tone about their relationship, despite Trump's earlier assertion that Germany is a "captive of Russia" because of a pipeline deal.

"We have a very, very good relationship with the chancellor. We have a tremendous relationship with Germany," Trump told reporters, adding that he and Merkel discussed military spending and trade.

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Merkel, who spoke in German, said the two countries are "good partners, and we wish to cooperate in the future."

Trump said the two had discussed the Russian pipeline he'd mentioned earlier, but did not elaborate.

Trump earlier Wednesday suggested NATO examine the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which provides parts of northern Germany with gas from Russia. The deal has drawn criticism from European and U.S. leaders, who worry it provides Russia with influence over energy in Western Europe.

"If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia because they supply," Trump said during his meeting with the NATO secretary-general. "They got rid of their coal plants. They got rid of their nuclear. They're getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia. I think it's something that NATO has to look at. I think it's very inappropriate."

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg attempted to assuage Trump's concerns, saying NATO members are bound to have disagreements but that they are better off working together.

Trump appeared to find the response unsatisfactory, arguing that Germany is "just making Russia richer."

In response, Merkel noted that she grew up in East Germany, which was literally captive to the Soviet Union, but said the country is now "united in freedom" and able to make independent decisions.

The exchange underscored what has been an at-times tense relationship between Merkel and Trump over the past year-and-a-half. The two leaders have clashed over immigration, and most recently trade policy.

While Trump took aim at Germany over the gas pipeline, he also spent the morning continuing his attacks on Germany and other NATO allies over a perceived insufficient commitment to funding the alliance.