Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel visits President Donald Trump without illusions, but with hope

WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) - Germany's Angela Merkel visits U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday with no illusions of matching his "special relationship" with France's Emmanuel Macron, but hoping to foster a broader dialog on trade - one of a batch of tricky topics likely to be addressed.

The cautious Merkel has failed to establish a good personal rapport with the brash Trump, and the mood music of her one-day working visit to the White House will almost certainly contrast sharply with the tactile "bromance" between Trump and Macron.

Yet her trip may prove more productive. Before heading home after a three-day state visit in Washington, Macron acknowledged that, despite his efforts to dissuade the U.S. president from pulling out of the multinational Iran nuclear deal, Trump remained likely to do so.

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German Environment Minister Angela Merkel smiles prior to a environmental ministers conference at Albrechtsburg castle in Dresden, March 23. Ministers from 21 countries will attend the annual conference to discuss environmental issues. 

(Reuters Photographer / Reuters)

Christian Democratic German Defence Minister Volker Ruehe (R) and Environment Minister Angela Merkel smile prior a cabinet meeting at the chancellery in Bonn, August 11. The cabinet is expected to discuss Merkels report about the security of nuclear power plants in Germany. 

(Reuters Photographer / Reuters)

Angela MERKEL , CDU , Minister for the Environment , during a cabinet meeting in April 1994

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Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a news conference at the end of a European Union leaders summit in Brussels March 15, 2013. European leaders met in Brussels for a second day of summit talks on Friday, to discuss relations with Russia and the situation in Syria, as well as economic policies.

(REUTERS/Laurent Dubrule)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel poses for photographs after the recording of her annual New Year's speech at the Chancellery in Berlin December 30, 2013.

(REUTERS/David Gannon/Pool)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a reception with carols singers (Sternsinger) at the Chancellery in Berlin, January 7, 2014. Merkel has fractured her pelvis in a cross-country skiing accident in Switzerland over the Christmas holidays and is walking with the help of crutches, forcing her to call off some foreign visits and official appointments her spokesman said on Monday.

9REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz)

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, December 18, 2015.

(REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernandez shake hands after a joint press conference following talks at the Chancellery in Berlin on October 27, 2015. The two leaders are meeting for conversations about the bilateral relations, developmental cooperation and the situation in the region.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel wears Google Glass eyewear as she visits a booth of Nokia where students developed an interactive communication software to repair mobile communications equipment abroad during a Girls Day career event at the Chancellery in Berlin April 27, 2016. Girls Day seeks to attract female pupils to careers in IT, technological and natural science sectors of the German industry.

(REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

Merkel, Angela - Politician, CDU, Germany, Federal Minister for the Environment, Germany - ironing wrapping paper - 1994

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Angela Merkel, German chancellor, is seen arriving at a G-8 meeting in St-Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, July 16, 2006. Italy and the U.K. sent warships to the Eastern Mediterranean as a fifth day of fighting in the region prompted most of the Group of Eight countries to make plans for evacuating their citizens from Lebanon and Israel.

(Photo by Dmitry Beliakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

 Angela MERKEL (CDU), federal chancellor.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during an official welcoming ceremony at the Chancellery in Berlin 05 June 2007. Abe was in Berlin for bilateral takes with his German counterpart prior to the start of the G8 summit the following day.

 (CLEMENS BILAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Hohen-Luckow, GERMANY: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President George W. Bush pose with children of residents upon his arrival at Hohen Luckow Estate, northeastern Germany, 06 June 2007 prior their dinner on the first day of the summit of the Group of Eight most industrialized nations at the Baltic Coast hotel in the northern resort of Heiligendamm.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures as she delivers a speech at a Christian Democratic Union meeting in Frankfurt 04 September 2007, outlining the party's basic principles.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) talks to geishas during her visit in Kyoto, 31 August 2007. Merkel is on a three-day official visit to Japan.

 (PEER GRIMM/AFP/Getty Images)

US President George W. Bush (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) shake hands after a joint press conference at the guesthouse of the Federal Republic, the Meseberg Palace, in Meseberg north of Berlin, Germany on June 11, 2008. President Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met for talks which were dominated by the Iranian nuclear programme, climate protection and transatlantic trade. Germany is the second stop on a farewell tour of Europe before Bush leaves office in January 2009.  

(MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly German government cabinet meeting on August 13, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. High on the morning's agenda was the extension of the German military mission in Sudan. The German Bundeswehr has approximately 40 soldiers in Sudan as part of the Untied Nations UNMIS peacekeeping force.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Ronald Pofalla (R), General Secretary of the CDU smile during their election campaign rally at the central station Koblenz during their journey in the historic 'Rheingold' train on September 15, 2009 in Koblenz, Germany. German Chancellor Merkel tours during her election campaign rally through six German cities in the historic train. The 17th German federal election is scheduled for September 27, 2009 and will be held to elect the members of the Bundestag, the federal parliament of Germany.

(Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrives for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Meseberg Palace, the government's official residence, in the eastern German town of Meseberg on June 4, 2010. Medvedev is in Germany for two days of what the German government called 'informal' discussions set to be dominated by Iran's nuclear program and the Middle East.

(JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a speech during the ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the German Federal Police (BKA) in Wiesbaden, August 18, 2011.

(REUTERS/Alex Domanski)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures as she takes questions from the audience on foreign policy as the Koerber foundation marked the 50th anniversary of the Bergedorfer forum, a German think-tank in Berlin September 9, 2011.

(JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

French President Francois Hollande (L) greets German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France on November 25, 2015.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo pay their respects to the victims of the November 13 Paris attacks on November 25, 2015, on the Place de la Republic in Paris, where they each left a white rose. Hollande, just off the plane from Washington, met German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seeking support for his faltering effort to forge a coalition to fight Islamic State jihadists. Hollande is expected to look to Merkel to try to ease tensions between Russia and Turkey -- two potential components of the anti-IS alliance -- which fell out over the downing of a Russian warplane at the Turkish-Syrian border. Hollande is on a whirlwind diplomatic tour spurred by the November 13 attacks on Paris that left 130 dead and 350 injured.

(ETIENNE LAURENT/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrive for a press conference after their bilateral talks at the Herrenhausen Palace in Hanover, on April 24, 2016. Obama is in Germany on the last leg of his tour of Europe and the Gulf, planning to underscore close ties with Chancellor Angela Merkel and make the case for a controversial transatlantic free trade agreement

(TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, reacts during a news conference at the CDU headquarters in Berlin, Germany, on Monday, March 14, 2016. Merkel plans to stay the course and pursue her migration policy much as before even as she acknowledged that the refugee crisis hurt her party in three state elections.

(Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) receives a honorary doctorate degree from Nanjing University's president Chen Jun at University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China, June 12, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) talks with Jerome Boateng (R) during the annual open-house day at the Chancellery on August 28, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. Merkel has seen her popularity ratings decline as Germany grapples with the integration of up to one million refugees and migrants who arrived in Germany thanks to Merkel's liberal policy. Many Germans feel unsettled by so many newcomers and only a small portion of those granted asylum have found jobs. Germany faces federal elections next year.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures during her summer interview with journalists of German public tv chain ARD on August 28, 2016 in Berlin.

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German Chancellor and leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party CDU Angela Merkel reacts after her speech at the CDU party convention in Essen, Germany, December 6, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Foreign Minister Fank-Walter Steinmeier walk towards the Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016, one day after a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks at Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj as they and other heads of delegations watch traditional nomadic Naadam festival performance during the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit just outside Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 15, 2016.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Sarah Philips during a reception of German carnival societies at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, January 23, 2017.

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Pupils make selfies as German Chancellor Angela Merkel signs autographs as she visits the French secondary school Lycee Francais in Berlin, Germany, May 3, 2016.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during a welcome ceremony at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, January 22, 2016.

(REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks at a combat diver during her visit to Naval Base Command in Kiel, Germany, January 19, 2016.

(REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer)

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The Iran deal, looming U.S. tariffs on European steel and aluminum products, a planned Russian gas pipeline running under the Baltic Sea to Germany, and Berlin's military spending are issues that divide Merkel and Trump and likely to come up at their working lunch.

"Look forward to meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany today. So much to discuss, so little time!" Trump wrote in a tweet on Friday ahead of their meeting. "It will be good for both of our great countries!"

A senior German official noted the importance of the relationship.

"The chancellor is pleased about this appointment because she is a convinced Atlanticist," the official said. "It is important to cultivate this relationship."

In Washington, a White House official described Germany as one of the United States' closest partners and a steadfast NATO ally, adding: "All of Washington is ready to work with Chancellor Merkel's new government."

Ahead of the trip, German officials said they expected U.S. tariffs on European steel and aluminum products to kick in on May 1, when an exemption expires. But they said Germany would try to negotiate a broad package including other industries.

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Donald Trump with Alfred Eisenpreis, New York City Economic Development Administrator. Sketch of new 1,400 room Renovation project of Commodore Hotel.

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Donald Trump pauses in his apartment 5/20 after receiving the news that the Board of Estimate unanimously approved a 40-year tax abatement plan. Under the plan Trump will purchase and refurbish the Commodore Hotel, which closed into doors 5/18, from the Penn Central Transportation Corp. In return for his $10-million-dollar purchase and up to $100 million face-lifting investment, Trump will have no real estate taxes for 40 years.

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Real estate developer Donald Trump announces intentions to build a $100 million dollar Regency Hotel.

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Donald Trump and Ivana Trump attend Roy Cohn's birthday party in February 1980 in New York City.

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Donna Mills and Donald Trump during 1983 Annual American Image Awards at Sheraton Center in New York City, New York, United States.

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Donald Trump attends 38th Annual Horatio Alger Awards Dinner on May 10, 1985 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City.

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Portrait of real estate mogul Donald John Trump (b.1946), smiling slightly and facing to his right, 1983. New York.

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Boxing promoter Don King holds up the arms of Mike Tyson and former champion Larry Holmes during a press conference here 12/1. Looking on is Donald Trump. The fight will be held at the Trump Plaza Hotel.

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Donald Trump Jr. and Donald Trump during 1988 U.S. Open - September 3, 1988 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York, United States.

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Ivana Trump and Donald Trump during Mike Tyson vs Michael Spinks Fight at Trump Plaza - June 27, 1988 at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States.

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Donald Trump and Joan Rivers during Opening of The Rose Room in the Plaza Hotel at Plaza Hotel Rose Room in New York City, New York, United States.

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Donald Trump touches 07 April 1993 Marla Maples stomach to confirm published reports that the actress is pregnant with his child. The two arrived for Maples appearance in the Broadway musical 'The Will Rogers Follies'.

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US business tycoon Donald Trump enters the PLaza Hotel in New York past supporters 21 December 1994. Hundreds of supporters showed up at a news conference where Trump denied a New York newspaper report that the Sultan of Brunei had bid 300 million USD to buy the Manhattan hotel.

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Donald Trump and Christine Whitman during Opening of New Warner Bros. Store in Trump Plaza Casino at Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States.

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Donald Trump attends Marc Jacobs Fashion Show on April 4, 1995 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

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New York real estate giant Donald Trump poses in his Trump Tower office on a giant letter 'T' on May 8, 1996.

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Portrait of Marla Maples and her husband, businessman Donald Trump, with their daughter Tiffany, as they pose together at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, 1996.

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Donald Trump and Ron Delsner backstage at a KISS concert at Madison Squre Garden in New York City on July 25, 1996.

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Celine Dion, husband Rene, Donald Trump & Ivanka Trump

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Donald Trump and his girlfriend Melania Knauss attend the Marc Bouwer/Peta Fall/Winter 2002 Collection show February 14, 2002 during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City.

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Donald Trump at Madison Square Garden

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"I think the chancellor would prefer a broad dialog with the Americans. The government is open to extending the package to other duties and trade barriers," one official added.

In Washington, a White House official said the United States would press Germany about trade deficits that "pose risks to global economic stability," and "would like to remove barriers ... to trade so that we can level the playing field."

"We want to work with Berlin on global unfair trading practices because those are impacting our economies in equal measure," he said.

 

BURDEN-SHARING

The White House official said Trump would press Merkel to increase Germany's funding for NATO, a subject he has pushed since taking office.

"We will ask Germany to step up on burden-sharing," the official said, adding that NATO needed to be strong and prepared to address a host of major foreign policy issues including Syria, Iran, China and Russia.

In Berlin, the German officials made clear that Merkel was not ready to roll over when faced with Trump's criticism of Germany's trade position or the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

"Our analysis is ... that (the pipeline) does not make us more dependent on Russia," one of the officials said.

EU countries are divided on the merits of Nord Stream 2. Trump could seize on this, as well as Germany's slow progress in moving closer to the NATO defense spending target.

On Iran, Macron made the running ahead of Merkel's visit.

On Wednesday, he called on the United States not to abandon the Iran deal as Western envoys said Britain, France and Germany were nearing agreeing a package they hope could persuade Trump to save the pact. This gives Merkel something to work with. (Additional reporting by Paul Carrel and Andrea Shalal; writing by Paul Carrel and Jeff Mason; editing by Andrew Roche)

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