Same-sex marriage divides Merkel's coalition

German government backs restarting TTIP talks

The part of Ross's remarks that were shown involved "renewed criticism of Germany's trade surplus with the USA", according to Bloomberg, which reports that attendees at the Christian Democratic Union's conference "laughed and clapped" when the secretary's speech was cut short. "Now we look forward to the chancellor's speech", he continued.

The chancellor's U-turn means that same-sex marriage could be approved in Germany as soon as this week, with a vote set to take place in parliament on Friday.

Trump has expressed frustration with Germany, following reports that its trade surplus over the United States a year ago amounted to some $65 billion (57 billion euros).

"As your biggest customer, we hope to attain a larger share of your market", Ross told the meeting over a video link from Washington, D.C., according to Deutsche Welle.

Earlier, Ross said the US and the European Union should restart Transatlantic Trade an Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks. "We, as major trading partners of each other, should have a free-trade agreement".

Ross' address comes one week before the Merkel and Trump will meet with their global counterparts at the G-20 summit in Hamburg.

Germany, which past year turned in a record trade surplus, has been in Washington's sights since Trump came to power. The Trump administration made a "conscious decision not to walk away from" the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Ross said. She also called for German companies to invest in America.

"We have absolutely no ground to believe that German steel exports to the USA pose a threat to the country's security", ministry spokeswoman Tanja Alemany told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday.

In the past, Merkel has said that she sees marriage as a bond between a man and a woman.

The issue gained renewed urgency ahead of the September elections, when Merkel distanced herself from the clear opposition in the CDU during an interview on Monday and referred to a free vote.

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