Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Last month, in a phone conversation between Donald Trump and Angela Merkel, the U.S. president shared his views on Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Trump was surprised, the sources said.The exchange, weeks after Merkel paid her first visit to Trump in Washington, underscored the challenge the German leader faces as she tries to forge a relationship with a president that half a dozen European officials who spoke to Reuters described as erratic, ill prepared and prone to rhetorical excess.Six months after Trump's election and a little more than a week before he makes his first trip to Europe as president, officials in Berlin and other European capitals are still unsure about where the Trump administration stands on many of the big issues that concern them.Trump is no longer calling NATO obsolete.In July, just two months before Germany holds an election, Merkel will host a tricky G-20 summit in Hamburg, where Trump is expected to meet Putin for the first time.Merkel has been sparring with Putin and Erdogan for over a decade and worked with two U.S. presidents before Trump.Although German officials acknowledge that the prospect of reviving TTIP – the trans-Atlantic trade deal Europe tried to clinch with Obama – seems remote, they were pleased that Trump seemed open to the idea of negotiating with the EU.
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