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Merkel Vows To Work On Germany's 'Under Pressure' Relationship With U.S.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump at NATO headquarters in Brussels on July 11.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will work on her country's relationship with the United States, which she described as "under pressure" but "crucial."

Merkel made the statement in a wide-ranging news conference on July 20 after U.S. President Donald Trump accused Berlin last week of being a "captive" of Russia due to its reliance on Russian energy imports.

Trump said at a NATO meeting on July 11 in Brussels that Germany was wrong to support an $11 billion Baltic Sea pipeline to import even more Russian gas while lagging behind its targets for defense spending -- a decision he described as "a horrific thing."

"Germany is captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia," Trump said, adding, "Germany is totally controlled by Russia."

Asked about her working relationship with Trump, Merkel said, "One can say that the values or our usual framework are under strong pressure at the moment."

She added: "However, the transatlantic working relationship, including with the U.S. president, is crucial for us and I will carry on cultivating it."

Merkel welcomed Trump's invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington this autumn, saying that meetings between the leaders of the United States and Russia should become "normal" again.

But she added that she had been right to say a year ago that Europe could no longer depend on the United States to maintain world order.

"We can't rely on the superpower of the United States," Merkel said.

She also commented on Trump's statement earlier this week that Montenegro, NATO's newest member, could trigger World War III because of what he said was Montenegrins' "very aggressive" nature and because the alliance would be compelled to defend them under its mutual defense clause.

Merkel said that Article 5, the collective-defense clause, is "a central element of NATO, and I believe this Article 5 valid for all NATO member states, not just for big ones or small ones or for some."

She said Montenegro, a tiny former Yugoslav republic, made great efforts to become a member and added, "I am glad that Montenegro is a member."

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa
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