Merkel-Trump meet low on personal rapport

Standing next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a White House news conference on Friday, Mr Trump declined to express regret for the accusation he tweeted on March 4.

In awkward video footage, reporters can be heard asking the pair to shake hands for what was meant to be a smiling photo op - marking the German chancellor's first visit to the White House under Trump.

But his demand was swiftly rejected by German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who said on Sunday that "there is no debt account at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".

Mrs Merkel maintained her composure when Mr Trump repeated his contention that former president Barack Obama may have tapped his phones in Trump Tower.

The new USA president, a political novice before the 2016 campaign, had his first face-to-face talks with a veteran German leader whom he frequently maligned on the campaign trail, and whose free-trade, open-border politics stand in marked contrast to Trump's nationalistic rhetoric.

On Thursday, spokesman Sean Spicer turned to a Fox News analyst's contention that GCHQ, the British electronic intelligence agency, had helped Mr Obama wiretap Mr Trump.

Mrs Merkel attempted conciliation on economic issues. "That's something of which I'm deeply convinced".

Meanwhile, in an interview with the "Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung" newspaper to be published on Monday, Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also hit back at Trump's comments.

She also delivered a staunch defence of globalisation, and said she hoped the U.S. and the European Union could resume discussions on a trade agreement.

But Mr Trump, who had appeared to hold hands with Theresa May, the British prime minister, when they walked together during her White House visit in January, looked down at the floor and avoided all eye contact with his guest. "That is our task respectively".

The meetings at the White House included discussions on fighting the Islamic State group, the conflict in Afghanistan and resolving Ukraine's conflict, all matters that require close cooperation between the US and Germany.

The talks aimed to represent a restart of a relationship complicated by Mr Trump's rhetoric on the campaign trail.

President Donald Trump's unproven allegation that his predecessor wiretapped Trump Tower in NY ahead of the election blazed a new path of political disruption as he dragged two foreign allies into his increasingly thin argument that he is right.

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