German defence minister says US has not confirmed plans to withdraw troops

German defence minister says US has not confirmed plans to withdraw troops

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Germany
German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer attends the weekly Cabinet meeting in Berlin, Germany, May 6, 2020. (File photo: REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke)

BERLIN: Berlin has not yet received confirmation from Washington about reports that the United States plans to withdraw thousands of troops from Germany, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Monday (Jun 8).

US President Donald Trump has ordered the US military to remove 9,500 troops from Germany, a senior US official said on Friday.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said she would not speculate about the reports without confirmation.

"I don't want to speculate on something for which I have no confirmation," she told a news conference.

"The fact is the presence of US troops in Germany serves the entire security of the (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) alliance – so American security too. That is the basis on which we work together."

A spokesman on Monday also said the German government is waiting for official comment from Washington on plans to withdraw troops, and Berlin will only comment once it has that.

"There has not been official, public confirmation and so we are not commenting on media reports. Rather, we are waiting for information – when there is official information, we can comment," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said close cooperation with the US in NATO and with other NATO partners was key for Germany's security.

But Germany's coordinator for transatlantic ties has criticised Trump's decision to withdraw thousands of troops from Germany.

"This is completely unacceptable, especially since nobody in Washington thought about informing its NATO ally Germany in advance," Peter Beyer, a member of the CDU, told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

Following Trump's decision, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a newspaper interview that he regretted the planned withdrawal of US soldiers from Germany, describing Berlin's relationship with the United States as "complicated".

Source: Reuters/dv