German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood by her suggestion that Europe can no longer entirely rely on the U.S. and declared Wednesday that Germany and China can work together to help calm the world's problems.
Merkel is hosting the Group of 20 summit Friday and Saturday in Hamburg. The gathering should make for a challenging combination of world leaders, with President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan among those attending.
Welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping to Berlin on Wednesday, Merkel said their pre-summit meeting was "a good opportunity to expand and broaden our extensive strategic relations."
"It is a great pleasure for us to welcome you here today at a time of turmoil in the world, when China and Germany can make a contribution to calming down this turmoil somewhat," Merkel said. She didn't elaborate.
The G-20 summit comes amid unease in Europe about the Trump administration's "America First" approach to trade and other issues. After her last encounter with Trump in late May, Merkel said, "The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days."
Asked in an interview with weekly Die Zeit published Wednesday whether she would repeat that comment, she replied: "Yes, exactly that way."
"It is, for example, open whether we can and should in the future rely on the U.S. investing so much as it has so far in the United Nations' work, in Middle East policy, in European security policy or in peace missions in Africa," Merkel was quoted as saying.
She conceded that "we really don't have a legal claim to the Americans committing themselves everywhere in the world."
"The U.S. will probably not engage in Africa to the extent that would be necessary, particularly since they barely have oil interests any more in Africa and the Arab world," she said.
Merkel also held a pre-summit meeting last week with the event's European participants, who underscored their backing for the Paris accord to combat climate change.
Merkel reiterated that the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement was "extraordinarily regrettable" and noted that many U.S. states and cities want to continue participating.
The chancellor also pointed to a broader difference between Germany and the U.S. administration on globalization.
"While we seek chances to cooperate for everyone's benefit, globalization is seen in the American administration as a process which isn't about win-win situations, but about winners and losers," she said.
Still, Merkel made clear that she was focused on trying to reach agreements rather than dwelling on disagreements.
"We have to take the configurations as they are," Merkel said. "As G-20 chairwoman, I have the job of working out ways of reaching agreement and not contributing to an inability to talk."
"At the same time, the differences must not be swept under the carpet," she added.