U.S. Defence Secretary in Germany to settle defence ties

U.S. Defence Secretary in Germany to settle defence ties

U.S. Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin, is meeting his counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in Berlin on Tuesday, with the aim of settling defence ties.

This is coming after a tumultuous four years under the previous U.S. administration.

Former U.S. president, Donald Trump, repeatedly criticised Germany for not spending enough on defence, and late in his term announced the withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops from the country.

President Joe Biden’s policies have changed little from Trump’s, however, with the U.S. still demanding that NATO countries spend two per cent of their gross national product on defence.

Germany in 2020 spent 1.56 per cent on defence but has promised to increase it.

A key sticking point likely to arise on Tuesday’s discussions was the Nord Stream-2 pipeline, a megaproject that also has security implications.

Washington believed the undersea gas pipeline between Russia and Germany would make Germany and Europe too dependent on Russian energy.

The pipeline was almost completed and the German government had refused to call a halt to the scheme.

Germany and Washington were also looking to find a common position on international troops in Afghanistan.

Berlin wanted to make the withdrawal of troops dependent on the progress in peace negotiations between Taliban militants and the Afghan government but it was not clear whether the U.S. would agree to this.

After meeting Kramp-Karrenbauer, Austin was due to visit U.S. troops in Stuttgart.

He would continue his European trip with talks in Brussels.