When asked which world leader he most admires, Donald Trump named a politician he has spent months bashing on the campaign trail, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In an interview with a local reporter in New Hampshire, Trump said "I think Merkel is a really great world leader."

However he repeated his criticism of Merkel's immigration policies: "I was very disappointed that, when she, this move with the whole thing on immigration, I think it's a big problem and really, you know, to look at what she's done in the last year-and-a-half. I was always a Merkel person. I thought really fantastic. But I think she made a very tragic mistake a year-and-a-half ago."

Trump has repeatedly vilified Merkel during his campaign for accepting millions of refugees to Germany from war-torn Syria.

After she was named Time magazine's Person of the Year in December, he tweeted that she was "ruining" Germany.

Trump's rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, also expressed her admiration for Merkel on Thursday (29 September).

When asked to name a favourite world leader, the Democratic nominee said: "One of my favourites has been Angela Merkel ... her leadership and steadiness on the Euro crisis and her bravery in the face of the refugee crisis is something that I am impressed by."

Trump has previously criticised Clinton for her admiration of Merkel. "Hillary Clinton is running to be America's Angela Merkel, and we've seen how much crime and how many problems that's caused the German people," he said in August.

Brexit Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel Hannibal Hanschke/ Reuters