National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow -- shown here at the White House in August -- held talks with his German counterpart on trade

Washington (AFP) - Top economic advisors to US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel – whose relations have been strained at best for months – met Wednesday at the White House to boost trade ties.

Since taking office in January last year, and especially in recent months, the US leader has not held back, attacking Germany and Merkel on trade, Berlin’s military spending (too low for Trump) and immigration.

Senior White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow and his German counterpart Lars-Hendrik Roller met to “deepen bilateral economic and trade relations between our two countries,” US spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said.

“Both agreed to enhance economic growth and market access,” Walters said, in a statement that offered few details about the actual agenda for the discussions.

The threat of tariffs on European cars shipped to the US, one regularly brandished by Trump, is particularly sensitive for Merkel.

At a meeting in late July at the White House, Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tried to broker a ceasefire in the transatlantic trade war.

The meeting was hailed by Berlin as a breakthrough, but questions remain about Trump’s tariff plans.