The US president has joked that he and German Chancellor Angela Markel have got one thing in common - they have both been wiretapped - allegedly - by former president Barack Obama.

Donald Trump, who accused his predecessor of wiretapping his New York HQ during the election campaign but has produced no evidence to back the allegation, made the joke during Merkel's visit to the US.

During what appeared to be an awkward press conference with her, Trump joked: "As far as wiretapping by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps."

His appeared to be referencing the Wikileaks revelation that Merkel's phone was wiretapped by the previous US administration.

Obama was said to be furious with his successor's unsubstantiated claims and has denied the accusations. A number of Republicans have also distanced themselves from the wiretapping allegations.

The meeting between Trump and Merkel has been widely reported as appearing stiff and awkward.

There has been little love lost between the two. Trump has been highly critical of Merkel's immigration policy and described her as a person "who is ruining Germany" after Time magazine made her their Person of the Year in 2015.

Merkel has criticised Trump since he won the presidential election in November and has slammed his travel ban, his criticism of the EU and his denigration of other multi-national agreements.

Discussing the meeting between the two, 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."