epa05697870 The spokesperson of the Federal Foreign Office, Martin Schaefer, spekas during a government press conference in Berlin, Germany, 04 January 2017. EPA/CLEMENS BILAN

Berlin said Friday it would not engage in direct trade talks with the U.S., after a chief aide to President Donald Trump reportedly suggested the idea to the German ambassador in Washington.
“The [European] Commission carries out trade negotiations and concludes trade agreements for Europe and for us. This is the legal status, about which we have nothing critical to say,” Martin Schäfer, spokesperson for the German foreign ministry, said at a press conference in Berlin.
He also cautioned other EU countries to not engage with potential U.S. offers. “The new political constellation in the U.S. and elsewhere should not tempt anybody to take up a different position,” Schäfer said.
The spokesperson’s comments came after White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon earlier this month reportedly told the German ambassador to Washington, Peter Wittig, that he preferred bilateral trade ties with European countries. Schäfer said today he did not want to comment on the report.
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