Snowstorms bearing down the US east coast have forced German Chancellor Angela Merkel to postpone her visit to Washington DC.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed on Monday that the Chancellor's meeting with US President Donald Trump, originally set for Tuesday, will instead take place on Friday, March 17, and follow the same schedule of events.
Merkel's office also announced the postponement just before the Chancellor was due to depart. A spokesperson told reporters that Trump had called her to explain the severity of the blizzards in the forecast and advised her to postpone the trip.
The trip will mark Merkel's first face-to-face meeting with the new US president. The two have had a fractious start to their relationship, clashing on a range of issues including trade, military spending and, perhaps most outspokenly, immigration.
"Talking together instead of talking about one another - that will be my motto of the visit," Merkel said.
The two are expected to discuss strengthening the NATO alliance, collaborating in the fight against terrorism and taking steps to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, White House officials said Friday.
However, industry experts expect the Chancellor to convince Trump that a strong EU is the in the US' strategic and economic interest. The US president has questioned the benefit of bilateral trade deals for the US, while much of his campaign platform promoted a more protectionist politics.
Merkel told Parliament on Thursday that she will emphasize that "even if in parts of the world we see protectionist and nationalist approaches on the rise, Europe may never isolate, seal itself off or withdraw."
dm/rc (Reuters, dpa)