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U.S.-Germany Relations 'Under Pressure' With Donald Trump, but Angela Merkel Vows to Keep Working

German Chancellor Angela Merkel refused to call the U.S. a “foe” of the European Union, despite President Donald Trump’s claims, and vowed to work through the “pressure” that his presidency has put on bilateral relations.

Merkel gave her views on a handful of issues in a broad press conference on July 20, including the challenges she has faced from within her fractious coalition in government, and Trump’s recent tumultuous trip through Europe. The German leader, who once admitted Trump’s U-turn on a communiqué signed with Germany and five other partners was “depressing,” remained diplomatic when asked about her relationship with the president.

“One can say that the values, or our usual framework, are under strong pressure at the moment,” she said, according to a translation by Reuters. “However, the transatlantic working relationship, including with the U.S. president, is crucial for us, and I will carry on cultivating it.”

07_20_Merkel German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a press conference in Berlin on July 20. Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Trump has repeatedly lambasted U.S. allies in Europe and used Germany as an example of an economically strong nation that is increasing its defense spending too slowly. While at NATO last week, Trump chose his breakfast with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to complain about Germany. He asked about Berlin’s energy policy and whether buying gas from Russia made Germany a “captive” of Russia. The puzzled diplomat attempted to segue into his area of expertise in extolling the virtues of the military alliance.

Asked about Trump’s propensity for criticizing Germany, Merkel said she "hadn't done any research into the root causes” of the president’s attitude toward her country.

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In the lead-up to Trump’s fawning meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the U.S. president called the EU a “foe,” ahead of Russia and China. Asked what she made of the remark, Merkel was negative but brief.

"I'm not going to adopt that choice of words," she said, according to public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. Merkel did add that recent developments “confirmed” her comments during he reelection campaign last year, when she said that "the days when we could completely rely on the U.S. are in part over."

"It's legitimate for Europe to find a role of its own in the world," Merkel said. "We have a number of the world's conflicts directly on our doorstep. So Europe needs to play a greater role in resolving [the] conflict."

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