King Charles III to Speak to German Parliament, Meet Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomes Britain's King Charles III at the chancellery in Berlin, Thursday, March 30, 2023. King Charles III arrived Wednesday for a three-day official visit to Germany. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomes Britain's King Charles III at the chancellery in Berlin, Thursday, March 30, 2023. King Charles III arrived Wednesday for a three-day official visit to Germany. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
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King Charles III to Speak to German Parliament, Meet Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomes Britain's King Charles III at the chancellery in Berlin, Thursday, March 30, 2023. King Charles III arrived Wednesday for a three-day official visit to Germany. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomes Britain's King Charles III at the chancellery in Berlin, Thursday, March 30, 2023. King Charles III arrived Wednesday for a three-day official visit to Germany. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Britain's King Charles III met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and is preparing to become the first monarch to speak before Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, on Thursday as part of a high-profile visit aimed at bolstering ties between the two European powers.

Charles, 74, is on his first foreign trip since becoming king. He and Camilla, the queen consort, arrived in Berlin on Wednesday. Crowds of well-wishers and Germany's head of state, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, greeted the couple at the capital’s iconic Brandenburg Gate. They later attended a banquet in their honor at the presidential palace, The Associated Press said.

Pomp and royal glamour aside, the three-day visit has a decidedly political purpose. The British government is trying to mend frayed ties with its continental partners following the painful process that preceded and followed the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union.

The fallout from Brexit has been considerable: Britain's departure from the EU's common market has resulted in trade barriers and labor shortages, and locked the country out of key European science programs. By devoting special attention to the EU's two biggest powers — France and Germany — Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hopes to normalize relations with the 27-nation bloc.

Charles originally planned to stop in France first, but anti-government protests there delayed that part of his trip. That put the focus on Germany, where the British royal family has long enjoyed curiosity and admiration.

Not all were enamored by the visit, however. Jan Korte, a lawmaker with the opposition Left party, said it wasn't in keeping with Germany's democratic tradition to have Charles address the country's highest political body, the Bundestag.

“A king isn't elected,” Korte told public broadcaster ZDF. “He can obviously speak everywhere and is very welcome, including by me, but I think that particularly in the Bundestag, which is about representing the people, it's not really appropriate to have a monarch speak.”

After his speech, Charles and Camilla are scheduled to meet with refugees and British and German military personnel before visiting an organic farm outside of Berlin. They plan to be in Hamburg on Friday.



NATO Chief Says the Alliance Is Adapting Its Nuclear Arsenal to Security Threats

 NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference on the eve of a NATO Defense ministers meeting at the organization's headquarters in Brussels on June 12, 2024. (AFP)
NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference on the eve of a NATO Defense ministers meeting at the organization's headquarters in Brussels on June 12, 2024. (AFP)
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NATO Chief Says the Alliance Is Adapting Its Nuclear Arsenal to Security Threats

 NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference on the eve of a NATO Defense ministers meeting at the organization's headquarters in Brussels on June 12, 2024. (AFP)
NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference on the eve of a NATO Defense ministers meeting at the organization's headquarters in Brussels on June 12, 2024. (AFP)

In a rare reference to the Western nuclear arsenal, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday highlighted the alliance's efforts to adapt its capabilities to current security threats, taking note of Russia latest nuclear rhetoric and drills.

Talking to reporters before a two-day NATO defense ministers' meeting in Brussels that will include a gathering of the alliance's nuclear planning group, he called nuclear weapons NATO's "ultimate security guarantee" and a means to preserve peace.

While it is well known that the US has deployed nuclear bombs to several locations in Europe, NATO rarely talks about these weapons publicly.

Discussing what he called "the ongoing adaptation" of NATO's nuclear arsenal, Stoltenberg said the Netherlands in June declared the first F-35 fighter jets ready to carry nuclear arms and said the US was modernizing its nuclear weapons in Europe.

He described increasing Russian activity around its nuclear capabilities. "What we have seen over the last years and months is a dangerous nuclear rhetoric from the Russian side.... We also see some more exercises, nuclear exercises on the Russian side," he said.

On Tuesday, Russia said its troops had started the second stage of drills to practice the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons alongside Belarusian troops after what Moscow said were threats from Western powers.

Since sending thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said Moscow could use nuclear weapons to defend itself in extreme situations.

Russia accuses the US and its European allies of pushing the world to the brink of nuclear confrontation by giving Ukraine billions of dollars worth of weapons, some of which are being used against Russian territory.

Stoltenberg also referred also to the modernization of China's nuclear weapons, saying Beijing was expected to boost the number of nuclear missiles within a few years and many of them would be able to reach NATO territory.