“I think it will be a very sober, low-profile working summit, which better matches Merkel’s expectations and persona,” Henning Riecke, head of Transatlantic Relations at the German Council of Foreign Relations in Berlin, told ABC News. “It could, of course, be a bit of a punishment because Angela Merkel is not as enthusiastic about Donald Trump and his leadership.”
President Trump is the third U.S. president Chancellor Merkel has greeted in office. On her first official trip to the US in 2007, President George W. Bush invited ally Merkel to his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
In 2009, Merkel addressed Congress on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and in 2011, there was an official state dinner with President Obama.
“In Merkel’s case, no one expects warm body language. They are looking for policy outcomes,” said Karen Donfried, president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
Donfriend added that Merkel has two big asks of President Trump on time-sensitive issues.
“The EU exemption for steel and aluminum tariffs that President Trump has levied will expire May 1. She wants that extended,” she added.
And like President Macron, Merkel wants to ensure that Trump doesn’t back out of the Iran nuclear deal on May 12.
Germany is the EU’s largest steel exporter. While only about 5 percent of German steel comes to the U.S. -- accounting for just 4 percent of U.S. steel imports -- the 28 EU nations in all make up more than one-fifth of all U.S. steel imports.
Henning Riecke says Merkel and Macron coordinated their push for continued free trade between the U.S. and the EU.
Getting President Trump to stick to the Iran Deal is another matter, Donfried said.
Riecke says Merkel may reiterate Macron’s proposal to begin new negotiations for 2025.
“They could start with those now, but from a position of trust -- that once an agreement is there, you stick to it,” Riecke said.
He says this would also send a signal to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for upcoming negotiations on its nuclear program.
Donfried says to find consensus with “deal maker” Donald Trump, Merkel will have to offer the hawks something in return -- like more defense spending.
”I think it would make sense for Merkel to suggest some tangible steps Germany is taking to increase their defense capability,” Donfried tells ABC News.
She says back home, Merkel, a Christian Democrat, can make the case to her less-hawkish Social Democratic coalition partners and her constituents that increased military spending is not a concession, but a growing necessity.
Riecke says Germans don’t expect these negotiations to be easy. Ultimately, Merkel’s success on this trip might be measured more in hashtags than in handshakes, he added.
“It would be a win if she came back with a narrative of the meeting and [President Trump] wouldn’t destroy it in 30 seconds in a new tweet the next day,” he said.