Berlin — German Chancellor Angela Merkel blasted US import duties on steel and aluminium imports on Thursday as "illegal" and said they risked sparking a disastrous "spiral" of retaliatory measures. "The German government rejects the tariffs imposed by the US on steel and aluminium. We consider this unilateral measure to be illegal; the cited grounds of national security do not stand up," Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert said in a statement. "The measure risks touching off spirals of escalation that, in the end, hurt everyone." Merkel said the EU had made the "necessary preparations for appropriate counter-measures" to the tariffs, after EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker announced steps to hit back "within hours". But Seibert stressed that Berlin remained ready to talk to head off a trade war.

"The situation remains: the German government will continue to fight for free trade and open markets," he said. "We will continue to take a multi-lateral approach." German foreign minist...

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