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German Defense Minister: Planned US Withdrawal 'Regrettable'

German Defense Minister: Planned US Withdrawal 'Regrettable'

Friday, 31 July, 2020 - 13:00
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer speaks prior to the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, July 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, pool)
Asharq Al-Awsat

The German government's reaction so far to the US decision has been restrained. Still, Rolf Muetzenich, a senior figure in the governing coalition's junior party, the center-left Social Democrats, suggested that "armaments cooperation will have to be evaluated in a new light."

Muetzenich, the head of the party's parliamentary group, told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that "capriciousness and pressure" could not be "the basis for working together in partnership."

His comments drew criticism from Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right party. Lawmaker Roderich Kiesewetter told news agency dpa that "there is no adequate and affordable replacement so far" in Europe for the US defense industry's high-tech products. He argued that there also are checks and balances on Trump in the US.

Another lawmaker, Henning Otte, said the Social Democrats shouldn't talk up "further alienation within the alliance."

Part of the plan announced by US Defense Secretary Mark Esper includes moving the headquarters of US European Command to Mons, Belgium from Stuttgart, Germany . Esper said the Pentagon was also looking into moving U.S. Africa Command out of the German city.

Africa Command said in a statement Friday that it "has been told to plan to move" and has started doing so, though added it would "likely take several months to develop options, consider locations, and come to a decision."

Africa Command, which was established in Stuttgart in 2008 after being unable to find a location in Africa, said it would "first look at options elsewhere in Europe, but will also consider options in the United States" for its new home.

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