Donald Trump, Angela Merkel speak after chancellor's election win

Trump and Merkel meetng on the eve of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany,in July 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Donald Trump and Chancellor Angela Merkel have spoken by phone, the White House said on Thursday (Sept 28), days after the German leader's re-election.

Amid growing questions about a delay in the call between the uneasy allies, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president and chancellor had finally connected.

"I think they spoke either yesterday morning or this morning. And we have a readout coming on that," she said.

The White House did not immediately congratulate Merkel on her election, as is customary, after a campaign which saw Merkel implicitly criticize Trump.

"It's obviously been a complicated relationship," said Karen Donfried, president of The German Marshall Fund of the United States.

That is unlikely to change in Merkel's fourth term.

"For her, clearly this is a critical relationship," she told AFP.

"Merkel is still going to try to make the relationship work to the greatest extent possible."

"On Trump's side, my expectation is that he will stay very focused on his two big criticisms, one that Germany doesn't spend enough on defence and two that Germany has a 'massive trade surplus'."

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