18 Apr 2018

Merkel, Ardern discuss threats to world order

7:58 pm on 18 April 2018

The Prime Minister says there has been a deepening in the relationship between New Zealand and Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern shake hands at the end of a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany on April 17, 2018.

Photo: AFP / Emmanuele Contini / NurPhoto

Jacinda Ardern has met with the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to discuss key security challenges faced by both nations.

Ms Adern thanked Ms Merkel for supporting a potential free trade agreement between New Zealand and the European Union and expressed the hope that trade talks will begin next month.

The EU's member states are expected to decide whether to give the talks the go-ahead in May.

The two leaders discussed a wide range of issues in their first meeting at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, including the various pressures threatening the world order.

At a joint conference after the meeting, Ms Merkel said they'd discussed Brexit, the ongoing tensions with Russia and the recent military action in Syria.

"We are very grateful New Zealand has taken a very clear stance on all these issues," she said.

Ms Ardern appeared to slightly strengthen her language on the US-led air strikes on Syria in response to a suspected chemical attack, saying she "utterly" accepted the need to respond to "a blatant breach of international law".

"Whilst we absolutely maintain the need to - first and foremost - seek resolution through the likes of the United Nations, when that is not possible, we utterly accept the use of alternative means to address what has to be challenged."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: AFP

Ms Ardern has previously said she "accepts" the military action, but won't say she "supports" it. Speaking to NZ media later, Jacinda Ardern rejected that her comments were an elevation in tone.

Ms Ardern described the German chancellor as "extremely thoughtful" and thanked her for her strong support for beginning negotiations for an EU-NZ trade deal.

Dr Merkel said she hoped it could be a new model of free-trade agreements, taking into account social and environmental goals.

She was asked how the meeting had gone - to which Ms Ardern quipped, "they want to know if you found me likeable".

The German chancellor said the time had flown and the conversation had been fun.

"You can be proud of your Prime Minister. If you want to write this down for the New Zealand press," she said.

"This will be the headline in the morning papers I trust."

The Labour leader earlier received a red-carpet welcome with full military honours - as is customary on an inaugural visit.

The visit comes after a meeting yesterday with French president Emmanuel Macron where he expressed support to begin EU-NZ trade talks.

While France had previously been hesitant towards such a deal, Germany has long supported it. In January last year, Dr Merkel pledged to push the EU to work towards a quick trade accord after meeting then-Prime Minister Bill English.

Ms Ardern is now in London where she will meet with the British Prime Minister Theresa May and attend a meeting with other Commonwealth Heads of Government.

Jacinda Ardern and Angela Merkel with a kiwi soft toy.

Jacinda Ardern and Angela Merkel with a kiwi soft toy. Photo: Supplied

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