Trump appears to refuse handshake with Angela Merkel
Trump appears to refuse handshake with Angela Merkel

United States President Donald Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer on Sunday denied that the president refused to shake hands with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel during their meeting last week at the White House.

Trump refuses handshake, jokes about wiretapping allegations at crucial meet with Angela Merkel

"I don't think he heard the question" posed by Merkel when she suggested they shake hands in front of press cameras, press secretary Spicer told German weekly Der Spiegel published on Sunday.

A video clip of Merkel and Trump's meeting on Friday went viral, where the US president was seen ignoring Merkel's suggestions that they shake hands during a photo op after the reporters repeatedly requested them for a handshake. The German media said that the incident appeared to be another marker of the icy mood of the duo's meeting in Washington.

The two leaders, in a joint press conference on Friday, addressed many controversial issues, including NATO, defence spending, and free trade deals. However, here was little common ground seen in their approach on the issues. 

A day after their meeting, Trump took to Twitter and said that Germany owes NATO and the US "vast sums" of money for defence. However, his claim was soon refuted by the German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who said that the European nation does not owe NATO and the US money for defence.

Von der Leyen laid out Germany's contribution to the UN and European missions and said that it was wrong to associate the alliance's target for members to spend 2 percent of their economic output on defence by 2024 solely to NATO.

"Defence spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism," the minister said. 

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had earlier said that the country's defence spending is set to rise by €1.4 billion to €38.5 billion in 2018.

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