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Americans say US-German relations on right path; Germans say ‘nein’

President Donald Trump talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Friday, March 17, 2017, in the outer Oval Office, joined by Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. According to a new poll, Germans have soured on their relationship with the United States since Trump's election. (SHEALAH CRAIGHEAD/WHITE HOUSE PHOTO)

Since the election of President Donald Trump, Germans have soured on their relationship with the United States, while Americans views of their ally have remained largely positive, according to a new poll.

Only 35 percent of Germans had a favorable view of the United States in 2017, a sharp drop from 57 percent in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center on Global Attitudes and Trends.

At the same time the poll reported that 68 percent of the Americans surveyed said relations between the two nations are good, while 56 percent of Germans think they are bad.

The survey also reported that the share of Germans who have confidence in Trump is 11 percent, a big drop from the 86 percent for Barack Obama during the last year he was in office. During Obama’s eight-year term, the lowest the confidence rate reported was 71 percent in 2014.

Part of the drop could be due to Trump’s criticism of issues such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy, or it could be because of the different issues the Americans and Germans tend to focus on.

Forty five percent of Germans surveyed said economic and trade ties were the most important aspect of relationship. A third of the Americans surveyed said economic and trade ties were most important facet, and another third said it was security and defense. Only 16 percent of German respondents thought security and defense ties were the most important issue in U.S.-German relations.

Although the German media are replete with stories of the German armed forces being poorly prepared to meet their obligations to NATO allies, 64 percent of the Germans surveyed said defense spending should stay the same or decrease. Thirty-two percent said it should increase.

Washington has been urging Berlin for years to boost its defense spending to the level recommended by NATO. Last year, Germany spent 1.13 percent of its gross domestic product on defense falling, well below the 2 percent goal.

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