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Merkel defends German trade surplus, says trying to boost domestic demand

BERLIN, March 17 (Reuters) - Germany is trying to stimulate domestic demand to offset strong exports, but wants a keen appetite for German products to continue, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a video podcast on Saturday.

Merkel said Germany's trade surpluses, attacked by U.S. President Donald Trump, were narrowing due to rising domestic demand, and the government would continue to try to support that trend.

But she noted certain factors that affect trade balances, such as oil prices and currency fluctuations, were outside Germany's control.

"And of course, the trade surpluses show that our products are in demand. And we naturally want that to remain so in the future," she said.

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier will visit Washington on Sunday to press for a waiver from U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs as part of a broad push by the European Union to reverse the U.S. trade sanctions.

Merkel said on Friday the planned U.S. tariffs violated the principles of the World Trade Organization and the dispute should be resolved via talks if possible. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal Editing by Mark Potter)