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Germany's Merkel suffers third bout of shaking during ceremony

German Chancellor Angela Merkel tries to hold on and not shake next to Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne (2-L) during a reception with military honors at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, 10 July 2019.

[BERLIN] German Chancellor Angela Merkel had her third spell of shaking in recent weeks, putting persistent questions over her health back into focus.

Merkel, 64, was seen trembling briefly as she stood alongside Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne during a ceremony in Berlin Wednesday, according to footage on German broadcaster NTV. Mrs Merkel and Mr Rinne are due to speak to the media later.

Mrs Merkel is "fine" and is holding talks with Mr Rinne as planned, Ulrike Demmer, a government spokeswoman, told a regular news conference.

The latest scare puts pressure on Merkel's office to provide fuller transparency about her health situation. Until know, the shaking episodes were attributed to dehydration and the subsequent psychological effect.

Questions over her ability to perform her duties arise as Germany's economy is losing steam and relations within the governing coalition are strained. Last year, Mrs Merkel gave up her role as leader of the Christian Democrats and plans to leave politics after her term as chancellor ends with the next national election, slated for 2021. Both ruling parties did poorly in European elections in May, putting further pressure on the coalition.

On June 18, Mrs Merkel momentarily shook during a ceremony with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Then, she said it was the result of not drinking enough water. In subsequent days she also appeared to be fine, joking about the incident. The second episode over a week later, which occurred indoors, she tried to explain as a psychological effect.

Mrs Merkel is in her 14th year as chancellor.