Angela Merkel read Playboy interview to prepare for Donald Trump meeting, say German officials

The German Chancellor studies interviews and speeches ahead of meeting a new leader 

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel read a Playboy interview with Donald Trump in preparation for her first official meeting with the President, German officials have said.

The first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders held at the White House last week was intended to determine Germany and America’s transatlantic alliance and shape the nations’ working relationship, though it appeared to end awkwardly when the President apparently refused to shake Ms Merkel’s hand

White House spokesperson Sean Spicer has since said Mr Trump did not hear the German leader’s request for a handshake. 

German officials told Reuters ahead of the visit that Ms Merkel had been preparing extensively for meeting with Mr Trump. The Chancellor was said to have watched his speeches and studied interviews he had given, including a 1990 Q&A in Playboy magazine, in which Mr Trump is said to have floated a number of controversial ideas he is currently trying to implement now that he is in office.  

In addition to pouring over previous interviews, Ms Merkel’s team also analysed the President’s interactions with other leaders such as Prime Minister Theresa May, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“We have to be prepared for the fact that he does not like to listen for long, that he prefers clear positions and does not want to delve into details,” a senior German official told the news agency last week.

The two leaders  meeting saw Mr Trump call for members of Nato to “pay their fair share” for the cost of defence, while Ms Merkel said Germany needed to meet its spending goals for the military alliance.

“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,” Mr Trump said.

Days later, Mr Trump shouted down suggestions that his meeting with Ms Merkel had been anything but “great” as “fake news” on Twitter, before claiming that Germany owes “vast sums of money” to Nato.

“Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defence it provides for Germany!” he tweeted from his Mar-a-Lago base in Florida. 

Additional reporting by Reuters