Angela Merkel to seek common ground with Donald Trump 'whenever possible'

Germany will seek common ground "wherever possible" with US president Donald Trump's administration, Chancellor Angela Merkel said, despite differences over his recent travel ban.

The US was Germany's largest single trading partner in 2015, with German exports significantly outweighing imports from America, and there is concern in Berlin over the possibility of a more protectionist approach in Washington.

"We will try to find common ground wherever possible," Mrs Merkel told reporters in Munich.

She stressed the importance of Nato, and acknowledged the need for Germany to "do more in the area of defence".

Former US president Barack Obama also pressed European Nato allies to boost their defence spending, "but it is now gaining yet more significance", Mrs Merkel said.

"We will see, issue by issue, where we can cooperate and where we have different opinions," she added of the Trump administration.

"But it's in Germany's interest to strengthen the common ground there is, where possible, on our part - from the cooperation of intelligence services to defence questions and, of course, the fact that the United States is the biggest trading partner for Germany."

Mr Trump has in the past called Nato "obsolete".

However, the White House said after the two leaders spoke a week ago that he and Mrs Merkel agree on the "fundamental importance" of Nato to trans-Atlantic relations.

Mrs Merkel has criticised the immigration restrictions imposed by Mr Trump, but otherwise has been restrained in her comments on the new US administration.

Asked whether German companies and banks need to be shielded from possible US protectionist measures, she replied: "I have no reason to speculate.

"We must see what the American administration does, and then will have to consider whether we react or don't react."

Mrs Merkel underlined her commitment to multilateralism and trade agreements.

- AP

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