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Trump says Germany 'very bad' on trade in G-7 slap at Merkel
[BERLIN] Donald Trump's top economic adviser acknowledged that the president said Germany is "very bad" when it comes to flooding the U.S. with autos, but insisted it wasn't a dig at one of the United States' most-important allies.
"He said, 'They're very bad on trade' but he doesn't have a problem with Germany," said Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, as Mr Trump joined a meeting of the Group of Seven leaders in Sicily.
"He said his dad is from Germany. He said, 'I don't have a problem with Germany, I have a problem with German trade.'"
Still the comments were featured prominently in the German press and were another sign of Mr Trump's distance from major allies, which has been on display already in Sicily and yesterday at the Nato summit.
In a visit that included his hectoring of allies over defense spending and a rebuke by the UK over leaked intelligence, Mr Trump singled out manufacturers for contributing to a lopsided trade surplus.
European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, asked about the matter at the G-7 gathering in Italy on Friday, confirmed the gist of Mr Trump's comments but indicated they'd been exaggerated due to a translation error.
"The Germans are bad, very bad," Der Spiegel cited Mr Trump as saying, citing unidentified participants at a closed-door meeting between Mr Trump and EU officials in Brussels.
"Look at the millions of cars that they sell in the US. Terrible. We're going to stop that."
Germany also responded.
"Germany's position on the issue of trade balances and surpluses is well known," German government spokesman Georg Streiter told reporters in Berlin.
"A surplus is neither good nor evil. It's the result of supply and demand."