German Chancellor Angela Merkel heads to DC on Monday ahead of her first meeting with President Trump. The encounter between the trained physicist and veteran politician, renowned for her measured comments and reserved style, and the billionaire real-estate outsider whose off-the-cuff tweets and undiplomatic approach have rocked US politics should produce an interesting dynamic, per the AP. But despite the style differences, hopes are high Europe's most powerful leader will be able to use her savvy and experience to dispel some of the angst that has grown globally in the first weeks of Trump's administration. Though she's talked by phone with Trump, Tuesday's meeting will present her with a good opportunity to get a read of "who is calling the shots" and "who has the president's ear," says Sylke Tempel, an expert with the German Council on Foreign Relations.
Merkel is expected to address a wide range of issues, with her main goal likely to be to impress upon Trump her view that a strong EU is also in US strategic and economic interests. Trump has noted several differences with Merkel, suggesting NATO is obsolete, questioning multilateral trade deals, and calling Merkel's 2015 decision to allow 890,000 asylum seekers into Germany a "disaster." In Merkel's 12 years as chancellor, she worked well with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and she's shown she won't be pushed around by what Tempel calls "macho" tactics. "Putin tried that on her, Erdogan tried that, and there are quite a few others," Tempel said. "She has an enormous amount of patience, an internal calm and self-confidence." Merkel said Monday she's "looking forward" to meeting Trump: "Talking directly is always much better than talking about each other."