German chancellor confronted with pleas for help

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"I would like to make my first visit to Paris tonight, and later to Warsaw on Friday".

Germany's nearly six-month stalemate after Merkel's inconclusive election victory in September has left allies in doubt about her standing and policy plans.

She has argued that the European Union must increasingly look after its own interests in the era of US President Donald Trump, who has questioned long-standing transatlantic defense ties and threatened a trade war.

"The government must defend and advance free trade much more strongly than in the past", Thilo Brodtmann, head of Germany's Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, said in a statement.

"Trade is something that is important to the European Union, and they will work together to make sure the USA realizes the European Union won't take this lying down", she told ABC News.

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Germany's export strength and resulting trade surplus are a long-standing target of worldwide criticism, including by Trump. "We have always said we want fair trade on the basis of WTO agreements", Merkel said.

Angela Merkel was sworn in for her fourth term as German chancellor on Wednesday, putting an end to almost six months of political drift in Europe's biggest economy.

Opposition leaders portrayed that as a blow to her authority, though the result was in line with those at the beginning of Merkel's two previous "grand coalitions" of Germany's biggest parties.

"Welcome to the new government, but it was about time", President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at a ceremony to swear Mrs Merkel and her new ministers into office.

Merkel, who took up the top job in 2005, will become one of the two longest-serving German chancellors by the end of her current term in 2021 with 16 years in charge of Europe's biggest economy.

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NAIJ.com gathered that in all, 364 members of the Bundestag voted for Merkel, while 315 voted against her.

Parliament speaker Wolfgang Schaeuble administered the oath of office to Merkel, who pledged to "dedicate my efforts to the well-being of the German people, promote their welfare (and) protect them from harm".

Merkel's victory marks the final stepping stone on the path to Germany's new government - a renewal of the so-called grand coalition ("GroKo") between the Chancellor's CDU/Christian Social Union alliance and the SPD.

Merkel immediately got a taste of a more contentious parliament that includes the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, for the first time.

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