German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks at the 53rd Munich Security Conference (MSC) at Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 18, 2017.
Andreas Gebert—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
By Zeke J Miller
March 10, 2017

President Trump will seek the advice of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on how to approach Russian President Vladimir Putin, Administration officials said Friday.

Merkel’s March 14 visit to the White House—the first meeting for Trump and the longtime German leader—is set to be closely scrutinized amid disagreements on a range of policy issues, from Russia policy to refugees. Trump’s hasn’t been shy about sharing his opinion of Merkel, who support for accepting Syrian refugees he called “insane,” and suggested in a tweet she was “ruining Germany.”

Those comments followed Trump telling TIME Merkel was “probably the greatest leader in the world today.”

White House officials said Trump’s initial opinion of Putin is operative. “The president is impressed with Chancellor Merkel’s leadership,” an Administration official said Friday

“The President will be very interested in hearing the chancellor’s views on her experience interacting with Putin,” the official added, noting she has been negotiating with him for more than a decade. “He’s going to be very interested in hearing her insights on what it’s like to deal with Putin, to deal with the Russians.”

An official said that Trump has not yet decided on whether to continue to pursue the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). As a candidate Trump promised to do away with multilateral trade deals, and he withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership as one of his first acts in office. But the official suggested that T-TIP could be considered as a two-party deal because of the European Union’s structure.

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