German Chancellor Angela Merkel insists she's fit to carry on serving as chancellor through to the end of her term in 2021 while condemning US President Trump's xenophobic tweets against four minority Democratic congresswomen.

Angela Merkel, who turned 65 on Wednesday and has been in office since 2005, has suffered several bouts of shaking at public ceremonies in recent weeks that have stirred speculation about her health.
Angela Merkel, who turned 65 on Wednesday and has been in office since 2005, has suffered several bouts of shaking at public ceremonies in recent weeks that have stirred speculation about her health. (Reuters)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday condemned President Donald Trump's xenophobic tweets against four minority Democratic congresswomen, saying the US leader's attacks "go against what makes America great."

"I firmly distance myself from [the attacks] and I feel solidarity towards" the women, she told journalists.

"In my view, the strength of America lies in that people from different [origins] contributed to what makes the country great."

Trump on Sunday urged a group of four progressive Democratic congresswomen of colour ⁠— all American citizens and three of them US-born⁠ — to "go back" to their countries of origin.

"If you're not happy here, you can leave... This is about love for America, certain people hate our country," he tweeted on Tuesday while repeating the same message to a rally on Wednesday.

While usually refraining from commenting on other countries' domestic politics, Merkel on Friday had markedly sharp words about Trump's latest attacks.

Questions over racism are particularly sensitive in Germany given its Nazi past, and the government routinely speaks out forcefully in favour of tolerance and diversity.

Full-term plans

Meanwhile, Merkel threw her weight behind her embattled new defence minister and heir-apparent, while insisting she herself was fit to carry on serving as chancellor through to the end of her term in 2021.

Merkel, who turned 65 on Wednesday and has been in office since 2005, has suffered several bouts of shaking at public ceremonies in recent weeks that have stirred speculation about her health, though she has maintained she is fine.

In jovial form before taking a summer break, the conservative chancellor said she understood the questions about her health, but said at her annual news conference, "I can carry out this role."

She has no history of serious health issues. Her office has given no explanation for the shaking episodes. After one such bout, a government official told Reuters that it was more a psychological issue as she tried desperately to avoid a repeat.

"As a person, I have a strong personal interest in my health and, as I said, 2021 is the conclusion of my political work," Merkel told reporters, adding with a smile, "But then I hope there will be another life [after politics]."

Asked how she was feeling, Merkel added, "Good."

The chancellor, who has loomed large on the European stage since 2005, is trying to stage-manage a slow-motion exit from politics and in December gave up the chair of her Christian Democrats to protege Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Chain of gaffes

Despite a series of gaffes this year, Kramp-Karrenbauer took over as defence minister on Wednesday, entering the cabinet in a move likely to make or break her chances of succeeding her mentor as Germany's leader by 2021.

"I am convinced she will do that very well," Merkel said.

But Merkel added that she would stay out of her conservative bloc's decision on who should run in her place for chancellor at the next federal election in 2021.

"The party will decide who will be chancellor candidate," she said, adding that her Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party would do this together.

Source: Reuters