Merkel Backs Mattis Against Trump in Call for North Korea Talks

U.S. Ambassador Says N. Korea Is 'Begging for War'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said diplomacy is the best way to tackle the standoff with North Korea, in stark contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump who has dismissed the idea of further negotiations.

The Iran nuclear accord, which Germany helped negotiate, could be a model for engaging with Kim Jong Un’s regime, Merkel said in her weekly podcast on Saturday, four days after North Korea fired a missile over northern Japan.

Angela Merkel

Photographer: Joerg Koch/Getty Images

“We must now develop similar activities with an eye on North Korea,” Merkel said. The rocket tests should “spur us further to move forward with disarmament efforts,” she added.

Merkel’s call for diplomacy comes as divisions within the U.S. administration over North Korea were laid bare. Trump on Wednesday tweeted that the U.S. “has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis however insisted that negotiation would continue. “We’re never out of diplomatic solutions,” he told reporters.

Three weeks before the German election, Merkel also stood firm on European economic sanctions against Russia, suggesting that further talks can only begin after Russian President Vladimir Putin fulfills the terms of the Minsk agreement on a cease-fire and political settlement in eastern Ukraine.

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