German Minister on Relations with US: ‘It’s Complicated’

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s top diplomat says ties with the United States are “complicated” and he fears that America’s domestic discord could further fuel international tensions.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview published Sunday that if the U.S. goes ahead with plans to withdraw thousands of troops stationed in Germany then Berlin would “take note of this.”

Maas told weekly Bild am Sonntag that Germany “values the cooperation with U.S. forces that has grown over decades. It is in the interest of both our countries.”

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Germany by 9,500. Currently there are 34,500 American service members permanently assigned in Germany as part of a long-standing arrangement with America’s NATO ally.

Maas said Germany and the United States are “close partners in the trans-Atlantic alliance. But it’s complicated.”

He voiced concerns that the U.S. presidential election campaign could further polarize America and stoke populist politics.

“Then co-existence within the country doesn’t just become harder, it also fuels conflicts on the international level,” he was quoted as saying. “That’s the last thing we need.”

Asked about Trump’s hardline stance toward those protesting racism and the death of George Floyd by a U.S. policeman, Maas said he thought it was dangerous “to threaten further violence in a very tense situation.”

He praised Republican former Republican President George W. Bush and current Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden’s responses to the anti-racism protests, telling the newspaper: “This gives me hope that there are responsible voices in both camps. I really hope that the sensible ones will prevail.”

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