German-U.S. Ties

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Behind the Smiles

Merkel trifft Trump
The smiles were strained at times. And there was a handshake that didn't happen. Source: Evan Vucci/AP/dpa

“Apprenticeships, that’s a name I like. Apprentice,” U.S. President Donald Trump mused during an economic roundtable meeting Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a dozen business leaders from major companies in both countries.

It was a moment of levity that both sides probably welcomed, during discussions of one of the few areas where these two administrations might wholeheartedly agree these days: the importance of vocational training. “The German apprenticeship model is one of the proven programs to develop a highly-skilled workforce,” Mr. Trump acknowledged.

That was the end of the easy part of the discussion. After all, it’s no secret that relations between the two leaders have been frosty in the first few months of the Trump administration.

Following the economic meeting, all eyes were on a press conference between the two leaders, where both took pains to stress their commonalities, though their differences remained more than apparent.

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