BERLIN – The visit of the United States’ secretary of state to Germany on Friday exposed the growing differences between two traditionally close partners.
Mike Pompeo, who met with Chancellor Angela Merkel and her foreign minister Heiko Maas in Berlin, flagged up the differences while German diplomats tried to breathe life into the “transatlantic relationship,” including issues on trade, Iran, Huawei, Venezuela, NATO and climate change.
“The United States is and always will be Germany’s first partner outside of the European Union,” Merkel said in a brief appearance in front of the media alongside Pompeo in which she urged coordination.
During a press conference Pompeo held with Maas, the German minister also sought conciliation when he said Berlin and Washington had “the same goals” when it came to Iran, with both countries looking to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, albeit via different means.
After the USA abandoned the nuclear deal with Iran over allegations it had not complied and moved to apply sanctions against Tehran, Europe opted to keep the accord alive.
Only through “close cooperation” can the world’s big problems be solved, the German foreign minister said.
Pompeo touched on the two nation’s different approaches to the Venezuelan crisis, although both shared the common goal of restoring democracy in the troubled nation.
On Iran and Chinese tech giant Huawei, Pompeo said the USA wanted to turn up the pressure.
The secretary of state warned his European partners that if they entrust their 5G networks with data transmission to Huawei, Washington could restrict the information it shares with them.
He said the USA could not allow data belonging to US citizens or national security agencies onto networks deemed unreliable, adding that data from his country could not “end up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Germany and other European partners have not positioned themselves decisively on the key issue of future technological development, which has intensified the trade conflict between Washington and Beijing.
The common ground between the USA and Germany is limited to demanding that China complies with the rules of the game on trade matters and asking for cooperation from Moscow in the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts.
Pompeo spent Friday in Berlin to settle the outstanding account that he left three weeks ago when he canceled a visit to the German capital at short notice to travel to Iraq.