Angela Merkel ‘Feels Solidarity’ for Congresswomen Targeted by Trump


BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany expressed solidarity on Friday with the four Democratic congresswomen whom President Trump told to “go back” to the countries they came from, saying the remarks ran counter to her impression of what makes America strong.

Speaking to reporters in Berlin on Friday at her annual summer news conference, the chancellor fielded questions on a broad range of topics, but was asked repeatedly about her position regarding Mr. Trump’s insults to the congresswomen.

The House of Representatives has voted to condemn the president’s remarks as racist, and many world leaders have offered rebukes in recent days, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain told Parliament this week that she “strongly condemned those comments made by President Trump.”

Ms. Merkel has been critical of Mr. Trump since the day after he was elected, when she pointedly reminded him that Germany and the United States were bound by their common values of “democracy, freedom, the respect for the law and dignity of human beings, independent of their origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political beliefs.”

Asked whether she still stood behind that statement of shared values after Mr. Trump’s remarks, Ms. Merkel said: “People of very different nationalities have contributed to the strength of the American people.” She added that the president’s comments “very much run counter to this firm impression that I have.”

Pressed on whether she supported the four congresswomen — Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — the chancellor said, “Yes.”

She added that she “feels solidarity” with the “women who were attacked.”

Ms. Merkel, who began a fourth term as chancellor of Europe’s largest economy in 2017, also laid out ambitious plans to revive her country’s struggling efforts to meet its goals to help combat climate change, an effort that she credited partially to the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and her mobilization of students across the globe.

“They certainly drove us to speed up,” Ms. Merkel said. “The seriousness with which Greta, but also many, many other young people, are telling us that this is about their lives, and that their life spans extend further, has led us to approach the matter more resolutely.”

She said that her government planned to lay out a new climate law in September and that it was expected to include a carbon pricing mechanism, as well as the structures for exiting coal by 2038. Despite early attempts to transform its economy to one powered by green energy, Germany will miss its 2020 targets for reducing greenhouse gasses, largely because of its reliance on abundant, cheap coal.

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