In a joint news conference after his first face-to-face meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Donald Trump remarked: "At least we have something in common."
Trump was referring to reports during President Barack Obama's presidency that the United States bugged Merkel’s phone. He had recently accused his predecessor of wiretapping the Trump Tower in New York, during last year’s presidential campaign.
Brushing off questions about his claims without any evidence, Trump said he "very seldom" regrets anything he tweets.
Congressional leaders from both political parties say they do not believe Trump was wiretapped.
'Strong Support for NATO'
During the news conference, Trump also reiterated his strong support for NATO:
I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defence.
Merkel said she told Trump Germany needs to meet NATO spending goals. The two also discussed Ukraine and Afghanistan.
'Immigration Is a Privilege, Not a Right'
Trump said both countries must protect themselves from the threat of what he called “radical Islamic terrorism.”
Immigration is a privilege, not a right, and the safety of our citizens must always come first, without question.
These remarks come days after a federal court again struck down his executive order temporarily suspending the US refugee program and barring people from a handful of Muslim-majority countries.
On Trade Policies and Trump’s ‘Isolationism’
Trump said he expected the United States to do "fantastically well" in trade with Germany, while Merkel said she hoped the United States and the European Union could resume discussions on a trade agreement.
Trump said he did not believe in isolationism but that trade policy should be fairer.
As a presidential candidate, Trump criticized Merkel for allowing hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany. At the news conference, Merkel hinted at differences, saying: "This is obviously something we had an exchange of views about."
This meeting between the two is consequential for both sides. Relationship building is a less overt but important agenda item.
Merkel had close relations with Trump's Democratic and Republican predecessors, Barack Obama and George W Bush, and she is likely to seek a strong working relationship with Trump despite major policy differences and wariness in Germany about the former New York businessman.
(With inputs from Reuters and AP)