Angela Merkel arrives in Washington today for a two-day visit, where the German chancellor will hold talks with President Obama before a rare joint press conference in the Rose Garden. Yet despite the smiles, the two leaders have a strained if not frosty relationship, with both sides carping about economic policy, the GM bailout, and the war in Afghanistan. "The chancellor is not interested in joining the competition for who gets along best with Obama," a Merkel aide told the FT.
Last month Merkel attacked the Fed's monetary policy, and her finance minister warned that Washington's efforts to mop up billions in new cash will be "like putting toothpaste back into the tube." Obama also didn't consult NATO before appointing Stanley McChrystal to lead the Afghanistan mission, and Merkel will probably refuse to commit more troops during her visit. In public, though, Merkel will probably keep her disagreements hidden; Merkel faces an election this September, and German voters adore Obama.