Via Deutsche Welle

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the German capital, Berlin, on Friday for talks that will take place against the background of commemorations for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Pompeo has discussed security issues and trans-Atlantic relations with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Their meeting comes a day after Kramp-Karrenbauer called for Germany to play a much more active military role in the world.

Since World War II, Germany has previously pursued, and been held to, a policy of military restraint in reaction to the aggressive expansionism of the Nazi era.

Kramp-Karrenbauer has been supportive of US demands for Germany to increase military spending, with US President Donald Trump frequently chastizing Berlin for not doing enough as a NATO member.

Criticism of China, Russia

During a later speech given near Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate, Pompeo continued in the vein of his recent criticisms of China, saying the country had suppressed people with tactics that would have been “horrifyingly familiar” to residents of former communist East Germany.

Pompeo also criticized Russia as a country that “invades its neighbors and slays political opponents.”

He then called for Western unity in the face of the threat posed by “unfree nations,” saying, “Let’s stand together as allies.”

China on Thursday reacted to Pompeo’s recent rhetoric against Beijing, including his censure of the Belt and Road infrastructure project and his allegations of Chinese rights abuses in the region of Xinjiang, calling his comments “extremely dangerous.”

Trans-Atlantic tiffs

Pompeo is also due to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. Talks are likely to touch on the German-Russian gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2, which the US has strongly criticized as bringing a too strong energy dependency on Russia.

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US-German ties have also been strained by Washington’s imposition punitive tariffs on the EU in retaliation for illegal subsidies granted to European aerospace giant Airbus.

Later in the day, Pompeo is scheduled to visit the US Embassy to unveil a statue of late former US President Ronald Reagan. The statue is located near the site where Reagan gave a famous speech in 1987 calling on Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

On Thursday, Pompeo and his German counterpart Heiko Maas both reconfirmed the importance of NATO for joint security amid fears in Europe that Washington is weakening its commitment to the trans-Atlantic military alliance.

At the talks with Maas, Pompeo praised Germany for being “a great partner” in solving a range of international problems, while admitting that Washington and Berlin sometimes took “a different approach.”

tj/rt (dpa, AP)

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