Merkel describes Russia as partner, calls for international cooperation

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday strongly defended trade relations between her country and Russia and urged world leaders to meet in Munich to work together to tackle international problems.

In a speech to a crowd of guests including Ivanka, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, Merkel defended plans to build a new gas pipeline from Russia to Germany that was criticized by the US president.

Trump accused Germany of being “captive” to Russia because of its reliance on Russian energy.

But Merkel said, “If we were in the cold war … we imported huge amounts of Russian gas, I do not know why the times should be much worse today than to say that Russia is still a partner.”

“Do we want to make Russia dependent on China only? … Is that our European interest?” She asked.

During a Qs and As, Merkel said Russia’s political exclusion would be wrong, adding that “Europe cannot have an interest in severing all relations with Russia geo strategically.”

Trump repeatedly criticized Germany’s trade surplus with the United States and threatened to impose tariffs on cars produced by Europe’s biggest economy in response.

“We are proud of our cars and we must remain proud of them,” Merkel said, but noted that many of these cars are produced in the United States and exported to China.

“If this is seen as a security threat to the United States, we are shocked,” she told the Munich Security Conference.

Christine Lagarde, IMF director, was among those who greeted Merkel.