Merkel wants to foster India ties, softens message on U.S. as Trump scolds

Reuters News
Posted: May 30, 2017 6:28 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany wants to develop its ties with India and this should not be at the cost of its trans-Atlantic relationship, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday after meeting India's prime minister, who called Berlin "a very reliable partner".

Merkel, seeking to repair damage after shocking Washington on Sunday by declaring the era in which Europe could rely on its partners was somewhat over, repeatedly stressed the importance of trans-Atlantic ties but also highlighted Germany's history of cooperating with India and China in a "global world".

On Monday, Merkel had underlined her doubts about the reliability of the United States as an ally.

U.S. President Donald Trump responded by tweeting on Tuesday: "We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change."

Merkel talked to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Berlin about developing cooperation with India.

"That's of huge importance and in no way directed against any other relationships and certainly not against the trans-Atlantic ties, which have historically been very important for us and will remain so in future," she said.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Modi, she reiterated her view that "we need to take our fate in Europe into our own hands".

Europe needs to step up its presence on the international stage, for example by bringing about solutions to issues such as the Libya conflict, migration and economic problems including unemployment, she said.

Her comments came after Trump last week criticized major NATO allies over their military spending and ruffled feathers by refusing to endorse a global climate change accord.

Merkel praised India for implementing that climate pact very "intensively and in a very committed way" and Modi said people had no right to ruin the environment for future generations.

The German and Indian governments signed numerous agreements, including on cyber cooperation, development cooperation, education and railway safety.

In a sign of Berlin's shifting focus toward Asia, Merkel is also due to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin and Andreas Rinke; Writing by Paul Carrel and Michelle Martin; Editing by Louise Ireland)