German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised to fight for free trade and press on with multilateral efforts to combat climate change at the G20 summit next week, challenging the "America First" policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, Reuters reported.
In a defiant speech to parliament a week before she will host a summit of the world's top economic powers in Hamburg, the northern port city where she was born, Merkel did not mention Trump by name but said global problems could not be solved with protectionism and isolation.
Her remarks raised the prospect of an open clash with Trump at the summit. She later met with European G20 leaders who promised to present a united front in Hamburg, while making clear they preferred compromise to conflict.
"These will not be easy talks," Merkel said. "The differences are obvious and it would be wrong to pretend they aren't there. I simply won't do this."
The G20 summit will be held a little over a month after a G7 summit in Sicily exposed deep divisions between other western countries and Trump on climate change, trade and migration.
A short while later, Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of a landmark agreement to combat climate change reached in 2015 in Paris.
Ahead of the G20 summit, Trump's administration has threatened to take punitive trade measures against China, including introducing tariffs on steel imports.
This has made for an unusually tense atmosphere before the summit and German officials acknowledge they have little idea what the final communique will look like.
Asked about Merkel's comments, Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the U.S. relationship with Germany was "as strong as ever" and played down the discord.
"Of course there are going to be differences in relations with any country, and we'll talk frankly about those differences. The president enjoys those conversations," McMaster told reporters.
The German hosts face a difficult challenge. Along with Trump, Russia's Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan will be attending. All have strained relations with Merkel and other European leaders.
The summit, in a convention center in the heart of Hamburg, could also be disrupted by tens of thousands of protesters expected to descend on the city of 1.7 million.