Germany knocks planned US troop withdrawal

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BERLIN

The German government coordinator for transatlantic relations Peter Beyer on Wednesday lambasted American plans to withdraw several thousand soldiers from Germany, saying it made “no sense geopolitically for the US.”

Talking to German press agency dpa, Beyer said the plan to reduce almost 35,000 soldiers to 25,000 is “not in Germany’s or NATO’s security interests – and also makes no sense geopolitically for the US.”

Beyer expressed hope that US President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw US troops from Germany would ultimately fail.

“There are many opponents in Washington, not only among the Democrats, but also among the Republicans and in the Pentagon. It’s possible that these plans may yet fail,” Beyer said.

Earlier in the day, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced plans to pull out nearly 12,000 soldiers based in Germany.

As part of the reported plan, the US will bring about 6,400 forces home and relocate about 5,400 to other countries in Europe.

Reacting to Esper’s plans, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Germany Parliament, Norbert Roettgen tweeted, “In withdrawing 12,000 soldiers from Germany, the USA achieve the exact opposite from what Esper outlined. Instead of strengthening NATO it is going to weaken the alliance.”

He added, “The US military clout will not increase but decrease in relation to Russia and the Near & Middle East.”

Roettgen’s remarks were echoed by Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder whose state is host to thousands of US troops.

“Unfortunately, this puts a strain on the German-American relationship. The military benefit is not recognizable,” Soeder told dpa.

In the long run, the decision also weakens NATO and the US itself, Soeder added.

Trump had repeatedly threatened to withdraw troops from Germany over the country’s refusal to drastically step up its military spending.

Trump had time and again singled out German Chancellor Angela Merkel for not meeting NATO’s two-percent GDP spending goal.

“So we’re paying 4 to 4.3 percent when Germany’s paying 1 to 1.2 percent, at max 1.2 percent, of a much smaller GDP. That’s not fair,” Trump said in December.

According to NATO, Germany spends currently 1.38% of its GDP on the military, up around 11% from two years ago.



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