Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that Germany's relationship with the United States remains "central" to her government despite recent disagreements with President Donald Trump over trade and defense spending.

Asked about Trump's frequent attacks on Germany and her in particular, Merkel responded with deliberately measured calm, saying: "I take note of it."

Merkel told reporters during her annual summer news conference in Berlin that Trump's regular jibes at Germany "certainly have something to do with our economic size."

"I try to address the criticism but also to provide an independent, confident answer, and this doesn't always match the view held by the American president."

Addressing one of Trump's biggest complaints — that Berlin is exploiting the United States when it comes to trade — Merkel said that that narrative only takes into account the trade in goods. She said that when trade in services and repatriation of profits are taken into account, the figures favor the U.S.

Merkel, now in her fourth term, said tit-for-tat tariffs imposed or threatened between the United States and China could cause collateral damage to German automakers such as BMW, which has its biggest plant in the U.S.

"We see these potential tariffs both as a breach of WTO rules and also as a danger to the prosperity of many in the world," she said.

Merkel said that trans-Atlantic cooperation, including with the president, is "of course central for us and I will continue to nurture it," adding that cooperation produces "win-win" situations.

Responding to questions about the meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and a possible further meeting in Washington, Merkel insisted she welcomed their encounter.

"I think it should become normal again for Russian and American presidents to meet," she said. "That's why I'm happy about every meeting."


Geir Moulson contributed to this report.