Donald Trump has had a somewhat frosty first meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel, as the pair greeted each other for the first time since he was elected US president.

Appearing in front of cameras inside the White House ahead of their press conference together, the pair failed to shake hands or appear friendly with each other in what is usually a very diplomatic occasion.

The awkward moment is perhaps not too surprising. In the past, Trump has been highly critical of Merkel's immigration policy in her country, as well as describing her as a person "who is ruining Germany" after Time magazine awarded her their Person of the Year in 2015.

Merkel has also been critical of Trump recently in a whole host of subjects, such as his travel ban, criticism of the EU and other multi-national agreements.

Pictures have emerged of the two shaking hands at another stage, however.

Discussing the meeting, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said "The president and the chancellor have a series of meetings, and then will host a round table focusing on the importance of vocational training with both American and German business leaders."

The clip is in direct contrast to Trump's meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in which the US president was highly reluctant to let go of Abe's hand after a very prolonged handshake.

Angela Merkel Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet in the Oval Office of the White HouseSaul Loeb/AFP