The relationship between the US and Germany has been strained in 2017 after a frosty first meeting between Donald Trump and Angela Merkel. Now, new details have been released about their initial talks in Washington.

Back in March, the German chancellor visited the US president at the White House, in what was an awkward affair primarily due to the lack of handshake between the pair.

Now new reports from White House officials have revealed fresh details about the talks that took place behind closed doors.

According to a report from the New York Times, Trump failed to grapple the workings of the European Union when it came to trade.

He reportedly spoke about forming a new bilateral trade deal with Germany, to which Merkel replied that this was not possible and he could only deal with the EU as a whole.

The Times revealed in April that it took the US president 11 tries to fully grasp that he could only negotiate with the EU as a bloc rather than on a country-by-country basis.

A German official told The Times that "ten times Trump asked her if he could negotiate a trade deal with Germany. Every time she replied, 'You can't do a trade deal with Germany, only the EU.'"

It was only on the eleventh time that Trump understood the state of trade with the EU and said "Oh, we'll do a deal with Europe then."

Since that initial meeting, fresh details have emerged about how the events unfolded at the White House.

NYT reported that Trump asked whether an EU trade deal would be bilateral, to which Merkel simply nodded.

Upon this realisation, Trump said that this was "great" and at this point turned to his commerce secretary Wilbur Ross telling him, "Wilbur, we'll negotiate a bilateral trade deal with Europe."

After previously being accused of being "condescending" to Trump, German officials were relieved that Trump had been able to eventually understand the machinations of the EU, but White House staff were left "humiliated."

It also emerged that Trump's knowledge of other areas was also lacking, especially when it came to the Ukraine.

In an earlier phone call between the two world leaders, Trump had "little idea" of the importance that Ukraine had in the trans-Atlantic relationship, and the symbolism that it represents between Europe and Russia.

Ever since Trump came to power, the strained relationship between Germany and the US has only worsened, especially after the latter's exit from the Paris Climate Accord, prompting Merkel to say that "the times in which we can fully count on others — they are somewhat over."

Angela Merkel Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump meets with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Oval Office at the White House Jonathan Ernst/Reuters