Angela Merkel’s spokesman says Berlin is still committed to strengthening trans-Atlantic relations, after the German leader suggested Europe can no longer entirely rely on the United States.
Ms Merkel shocked many in Washington and London by saying that Europe must take its fate into its own hands, implying that the US under President Donald Trump and Britain after its Brexit vote were no longer reliable partners.
“The chancellor’s words stand on their own — they were clear and comprehensible,” her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told a regular government news conference in Berlin.
“It was a deeply convinced trans-Atlanticist who spoke.”
Mr Seibert said German-US relations “are a strong pillar of our foreign and security policy, and Germany will continue working to strengthen these relations”.
“Because trans-Atlantic relations are so important to this chancellor, it is right from her viewpoint to speak out honestly about differences,” he added.
Ms Merkel’s comments came after a G7 summit at which the Europeans could not reach agreement on climate change with Mr Trump.
While six of the seven G7 nations agreed to stick with their commitment to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement that aims to slow global warming, Mr Trump said he needed more time to decide if the US would abandon the accord.
Mr Trump’s administration has argued that US emissions standards are tougher than those set by China, India and others, and therefore have put American businesses at a disadvantage.
After the summit, Ms Merkel called the climate talks “very difficult, if not to say, very unsatisfactory”.
“The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days,” Ms Merkel said.
Despite the Trump administration’s talk of an “America first” policy and ongoing criticism of Germany for its massive trade surplus, the leaders who met in Sicily did vow to fight protectionism, reiterating “a commitment to keep our markets open”.
They also agreed to step up pressure on North Korea, to forge closer cooperation in the fight against terrorism, on the possibility of imposing more sanctions on Russia over role in the conflict in Ukraine.
Donald Trump refused to endorse the 2015 Paris Agreement at the G7 meeting. (AP: Andrew Medichini)