Biden halts Trump-ordered US troops cuts in Germany
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden has formally stopped the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany that was ordered last year by the Trump administration but had never actually begun. Speaking at the State Department on Thursday, Biden said the troop pullout would be halted until Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin does a review of America's troop presence around the globe. AdTrump's order met resistance from Congress as well as from within the military, which has long relied on Germany as a key ally and base of operations. The Pentagon began a review, to determine which troops would be redeployed to other locations and which would remain in Germany. Austin said in a statement Thursday that the department will conduct a review of the U.S. military footprint around the globe.
US: Germany is 'highly valued' station for American troops
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)BERLIN – Germany is “highly valued” as a station for American soldiers, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in his first conversation with her since taking up his new post, the German Defense Ministry said Thursday. German officials have hoped that order will be rescinded by the new administration, and the German Defense Ministry said that in his call with Kramp-Karrenbauer on Wednesday, Austin “emphasized that Germany is highly valued as a station and that American soldiers feel very comfortable here." “The U.S. continues to consider its presence in Germany as an important part of joint security,” the Defense Ministry said in a readout of the call. About 34,500 U.S. troops are stationed in Germany, which includes key American military facilities like the Ramstein Air Base and the headquarters for U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command. The Defense Department said Austin wanted to “reinforce the value the United States places on the bilateral defense relationship with one of our closest NATO Allies.”
Germany: Merkel's party elects pragmatic Laschet as leader
German Chancellor Angela Merkels party is choosing a new leader on Saturday, eight months before voters decide who will succeed Merkel in a national election. (Odd Andersen/Pool via AP)BERLIN – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right party chose Armin Laschet, the pragmatic governor of Germany’s most populous state, as its new leader Saturday. Laschet will have to build unity in the Christian Democratic Union, Germany's strongest party, after beating more conservative rival Friedrich Merz. Saturday's vote ends a nearly year-long limbo since outgoing leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who narrowly beat Merz in 2018 to succeed Merkel as CDU leader but failed to impose her authority, announced her resignation. Laschet has garnered mixed reviews in the pandemic, particularly as a vocal advocate of loosening restrictions after last year’s first phase.
Merkel's party to choose new leader ahead of German election
Now her Christian Democratic Union party is seeking its second new leader since she quit that role in 2018. Current leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced her resignation last February after failing to impose her authority on the party. Delegates from Germany's strongest party can choose Saturday between three main candidates who differ markedly, at least in style. This is Merz's second bid for the party leadership after he lost narrowly last time to Kramp-Karrenbauer, considered Merkel's preferred candidate. The CDU leader will be chosen by 1,001 delegates.
German defense minister rejects Turkey complaint over search
BERLIN – Germany's defense minister on Tuesday rejected Turkey's complaints over the search of a Turkish freighter in the Mediterranean Sea by a German frigate participating in a European mission, insisting that German sailors acted correctly. The German ship is part of the European Union's Irini naval mission, which is enforcing an arms embargo against Libya. German officials say that the order to board the ship came from Irini’s headquarters in Rome and that Turkey objected while the team was on board. Turkey says the search was “unauthorized and conducted by force” and insisted that its objections prior to the search were ignored. German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer backed the German crew's actions.
Official: Europe must do more for its defense, depends on US
BERLIN – Germany's defense minister said Tuesday that Europe must do more for its own protection, even as it seeks to ensure that the United States remains vested in the continent's security interests. “The idea of Europe's strategic autonomy goes too far if it feeds the illusion that we can ensure security, stability and prosperity in Europe without NATO and without the U.S.,” she said. France's President Emmanuel Macron recently insisted that the change of administration in the U.S. should be used as an opportunity to pursue Europe's strategic independence, not backtrack on it. “The United States will only respect us as allies if we are earnest, and if we are sovereign with respect to our defense," Macron told French magazine Le Grand Continent. Kramp-Karrenbauer said it's important for Europe to be able to conduct military operations, for example in Africa, independently of the United States.
World waits nervously, impatiently for US vote count
The world is watching as millions of Americans cast their ballots for the next president on Tuesday. “In the American system, the last vote counts, and maybe the last vote changes the result," Borrell told Spanish National Television. "The battle over the legitimacy of the result — whatever it will look like — has now begun,” said the German defense minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. “Africa used to learn American democracy, America is now learning African democracy,” tweeted Nigerian Sen. Shehu Sani, reflecting a common view from some on a continent long used to troubled elections and U.S. criticism of them. ___AP journalists around the world contributed.
German defense minister: Planned US withdrawal 'regrettable'
BERLIN Germany's defense minister on Friday described the planned withdrawal of some 12,000 U.S. troops from her country as regrettable, while suggesting it underlines the need for Europe to do more for its own security. American defense leaders said Wednesday that the U.S. will bring about 6,400 troops home and shift about 5,600 to other countries in Europe. German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer emphasized the need for more European integration in her response early Friday, and said she hopes to use Germany's current tenure of the European Union's rotating presidency to help make progress on security and defense policy. We are keeping German and European interests in view, she said in a statement. Esper said the Pentagon was also looking into moving U.S. Africa Command out of the German city.
Reports: Germany revamping elite army unit over extremism
BERLIN Germanys defense minister reportedly plans to restructure the countrys special forces unit after numerous allegations of far-right extremism. Die Welt and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported about 70 soldiers would be affected. Part of Germanys Bundeswehr military, the KSK was formed as an army unit in 1996 with a focus on anti-terrorism operations and hostage rescues from hostile areas. In January, the military reported 20 soldiers are under suspicion of being right-wing extremists. Gen. Markus Kreitmayr, told soldiers that he wouldnt tolerate extremism in the ranks.
Russia welcomes prospect of US troop pullback from Germany
MOSCOW Russia's Foreign Ministry on Thursday welcomed President Donald Trumps reported plan to withdraw more than a quarter of U.S. troops from Germany, saying it would help bolster security in Europe. Trump has reportedly signed off on a plan to cut the number of troops stationed in Germany from 34,500 to no more than 25,000. German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters earlier this week that Berlin hadnt yet been informed of any U.S. troops pullout. Moscow has described the deployment of NATO forces near Russian borders as a top security threat. Zakharova strongly warned Washington against redeploying some of the troops from Germany to Poland, saying it would further exacerbate tensions and undermine prospects of dialogue between Russia and NATO.
Germany: US troop withdrawal could harm NATO security
If the U.S. goes ahead, however, she suggested the move would do more harm to NATO as a whole than to Germanys own defense. The fact is that the presence of U.S. soldiers in Germany serves the entire NATO alliance security, including Americas own security, she said. This would break down trans-Atlantic bridges.The days are long gone when hundreds of thousands of American troops were stationed in Germany as a bulwark against the possibility of a Soviet invasion. If this is confirmed, you have to ask yourself what impact this will have on NATO and the security architecture in Europe, Beyer said. Germany has been increasing its defense spending and the issue of troops had lain dormant for many months.
Germany's Merkel dismisses talk she might seek 5th term
German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of a televised interview at the hauptstadtstudio (Capital city studio) of public broadcaster ARD in Berlin, Thursday June 4, 2020. Merkel dismissed such talk in an interview Thursday with ZDF television. Really not.Presssed as to whether her decision stands, she said: Very firmly.The 65-year-old Merkel, who became chancellor in 2005, announced in October 2018 that she wouldn't seek another term. But she did say she planned to serve out her current term, which is due to end late next year. It remains unclear who will seek to replace Merkel as chancellor.