Donald Trump congratulates Angela Merkel four days after election

Other world leaders congratulated Chancellor Merkel on winning the election at the start of the week. The US president took four days to offer his congratulations.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday congratulated German Chancellor Angela Merkel on her election victory.

The phone call came a notably long time after the German election on Sunday. Other world leaders congratulated the chancellor at the beginning of the week.

"President Donald J. Trump spoke today with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to congratulate her on her election victory and wish her well in the formation of her fourth government," said a statement from the White House on Thursday evening.

Trump underscored the "deep ties" between the nations as well as Washington's "commitment to our longstanding, strong alliance."

Four days versus one 

When Trump was elected president in 2016, Merkel's congratulations came a day later, compared to the four days it took Trump. Her congratulations were somewhat reserved at the time, however.

"Germany and America are bound by their values: democracy, freedom, the respect for the law and the dignity of human beings, independent of their origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political position," she wrote in 2016. "On the basis of these values, I offer the future president of the United States, Donald Trump, close cooperation."

Trump has been a frequent critic of Merkel, attacking her for Germany's trade surplus with the US, her open-door refugee policy and what he considers to be too-low defense spending.

During the German election campaign, Trump and his policies were implicitly criticized by the German leader.

Conversation dominated by North Korea

On Thursday Merkel's government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, confirmed the call in a post on Twitter, saying the bulk of the conversation focused on relations with North Korea and the Iran nuclear agreement.

Speaking on North Korea, Merkel said "all means must be used for a peaceful resolution of the conflict," according to Seibert's post. The two leaders agreed that "diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea must be intensified."

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Speaking on the Iranian nuclear deal that Trump has heavily criticized in the past, Merkel said it was an "important instrument" to prevent Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons. The Chancellor agreed with Trump that Iran's "negative role" in Syria and Lebanon, as well as its failure to recognize Israel's right to exist were "unacceptable." She agreed that the Iranian missile program violated UN Security Council's directives.

Merkel's CDU party won 33 percent of the vote after 12 years of Merkel at the helm. The CDU is currently in negotiations to form a coalition government.

aw/rc (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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