February 12, 2017 12:28 pm

American allies may face ‘surprises’ under Trump: German ambassador

WATCH: Germany’s ambassador to Canada Werner Wnendt tells Vassy Kapelos his government is ready to do more to support NATO and member countries like Canada need to pay their share to maintain what he calls an indispensable organization.

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Germany’s ambassador to Canada says his country’s chancellor will be very interested in whatever Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has to say when the two sit down next week.

Angela Merkel’s tête-à-tête with Trudeau will come just three days after a similar bilateral meeting between the prime minister and U.S. President Donald Trump, noted ambassador Werner Wnendt, while Merkel has yet to meet Trump face to face.

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“Whatever the prime minister brings from Washington of course it’s very interesting to hear this, and see what he has to say,” said Wnendt as he joined Vassy Kapelos in The West Block.

“But the chancellor has made it clear in (her) public statement … that definitely we want to be a close friend and partner and ally of the United States.”

Both Germany and Canada appear to be treading carefully around the new American administration, but Wnendt says that’s to be expected whenever there’s a shift in power in Washington.

“All governments in the world probably are looking forward to working with the United States, to find out what the position of the president, of his administration, will be. This is all developing, as we know there are surprises sometimes, but generally we trust that our relationship with this very important partner will continue.”

READ MORE: Trudeau to visit Europe next week

Trudeau is expected to address the full European parliament (a first for a sitting Canadian prime minister) on Feb. 16 before heading to Germany to meet with Merkel.

Trade will undoubtedly be high on the agenda as Canada and the rest of the international community adapt to a more protectionist White House.

WATCH: Finance minister visits DC to tout importance of US-Canada trade relations

But Wnendt also acknowledged that defence spending could be on the list of issues that Trudeau and Merkel need to iron out. Trump has been openly critical of America’s NATO allies, saying countries like Canada and Germany need to increase the money they set aside for defence (he has also called NATO itself obsolete).

“Canada at present, I think, stands at slightly under one per cent of the gross national product being spent on defence,” the ambassador noted.

“In Germany it’s probably 1.2 per cent. The chancellor (Merkel) has already made it clear that Germany is ready to do more, to invest in defence.”

Trump isn’t the first U.S. president to push for a greater contribution from military allies, he added.

“It’s in our common interest, this is a dangerous world. There are challenges from terrorism and other developments worldwide, so we need to be prepared.”

Watch the full interview with German ambassador to Canada Werner Wnendt above. 

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