Merkel: Trump must be respected as US president

BERLIN, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday Donald Trump must be shown appropriate respect for holding the office of the U.S. president, even if she may differ with him on policy issues.

Merkel, campaigning for a fourth term in office after a Sept. 24 national election, has refused to bend to pressure from her Social Democrat (SPD) rivals to resist demands by Trump for NATO members to increase their defense spending.

As a committed Atlanticist, she has stressed the strength of German relations with the United States even when flagging differences in opinion on policy.

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Trump and Merkel take some awkward photos
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Trump and Merkel take some awkward photos
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and US President Donald Trump shake hands prior to a bilateral meeting on the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 6, 2017. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Michael Kappeler (Photo credit should read MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and US President Donald Trump shake hands prior to a bilateral meeting on the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 6, 2017. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Matthias Schrader (Photo credit should read MATTHIAS SCHRADER/AFP/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and US President Donald Trump shake hands prior to a bilateral meeting on the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 6, 2017. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Michael Kappeler (Photo credit should read MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and US President Donald Trump shake hands prior to a bilateral meeting on the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 6, 2017. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Matthias Schrader (Photo credit should read MATTHIAS SCHRADER/AFP/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and US President Donald Trump shake hands prior to a bilateral meeting on the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 6, 2017. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Michael Kappeler (Photo credit should read MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and US President Donald Trump pose for a photo prior to a bilateral meeting on the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 6, 2017. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / Pool AP / Matthias Schrader (Photo credit should read MATTHIAS SCHRADER/AFP/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and US President Donald Trump pose for a photo prior to a bilateral meeting on the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 6, 2017. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Matthias Schrader (Photo credit should read MATTHIAS SCHRADER/AFP/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets U.S. President Donald Trump on the eve of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Kappeler/POOL
German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets U.S. President Donald Trump on the eve of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Kappeler/POOL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets U.S. President Donald Trump on the eve of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Matthias Schrader,POOL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets U.S. President Donald Trump on the eve of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Kappeler/POOL
German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets U.S. President Donald Trump on the eve of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Kappeler/POOL
German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets U.S. President Donald Trump on the eve of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Kappeler/POOL
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and US President Donald Trump leave for a bilateral meeting on the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 6, 2017. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Matthias Schrader (Photo credit should read MATTHIAS SCHRADER/AFP/Getty Images)
HAMBURG, GERMANY - JULY 06: German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives U.S. President Donald Trump in the Hotel Atlantic, on the eve of the G20 summit, for bilateral talks on July 6, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany. Leaders of the G20 group of nations are meeting for the July 7-8 summit. Topics high on the agenda for the summit include climate policy and development programs for African economies. (Photo by Jens Schluter - Pool/Getty Images)
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"If you take the president of the United States, whatever differences of opinion there may be, I know he prevailed in a tough election. It wasn't reserved for him on a silver platter," she told business daily Handelsblatt in an interview.

"In the end, he won the election under American electoral law and that means he is democratically elected and that this person should be shown the appropriate respect, regardless of how I assess his views," she added.

Her SPD challenger, Martin Schulz, has been far more critical of Trump, referring to the U.S. president as "this irresponsible man in the White House."

Merkel, who enjoyed holidaying in the United States before becoming chancellor in 2005, said she missed the opportunity to vacation there now.

"I can't go on holiday in San Diego now as chancellor because the time difference is too much, and that is something I miss a bit, but the work itself is so marvelous that I can afford to miss it."

(Reporting by Paul Carrel; editing by Mark Heinrich)

RELATED: A look back at Merkel and Trump's first meeting

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Merkel and Trump's first meeting
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Merkel and Trump's first meeting
U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledges members of his cabinet, including Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (from 4th R), Senior Advisor Steve Bannon, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Vice President Mike Pence, as they arrive to meet with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel wait for reporters to enter the room before their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel watch as reporters enter the room before their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks while Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, left, listens during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 17, 2017. Merkel, who is running for a fourth term in Germanys election in September, plans to explain her view of the mutual advantages of free trade during her talks with Trump on Friday, according to German officials. Photographers: Pat Benic/Pool via Bloomberg
US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrive to speak at a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, smile for photographs as she arrives to the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 17, 2017. Trumps first meeting with Merkel will test the power dynamic between the Wests two pre-eminent leaders, one struggling for credibility on the world stage while the other fights for political survival at home. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. President Donald Trump escorts German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. President Donald Trump greets German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
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