A leading German politician has branded US president Donald Trump’s comments on the events surrounding a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, as “highly dangerous”.

Martin Schulz, who is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s main challenger in next month’s election, said Germany has to “do everything to avoid things here going the way they are in America”.

Mr Schulz was asked in an interview with German media group RND about Donald Trump’s comments that “there’s blame on both sides” for the weekend violence in Charlottesville.

In extracts of the interview published on Wednesday, Mr Schulz was quoted as saying that “the downplaying of Nazi violence in Trump’s incoherent comments is highly dangerous”.

Mr Schulz, who leads Germany’s centre-left Social Democratic Party, said it was important to “stand decisively against those who sow hatred. Always. And everywhere”.

In 2014, Shulz caused controversy during an address to Israel\s parliament, the Knesset. Speaking about the conflict with the Palestinians, he criticised Israel for denying them water, sparking a walk-out by right-wing MKs, and leading to a rebuke from Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu