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5 Feb, 2021 13:58

American troops in Germany serve our ‘mutual interest,’ Berlin says, after Biden freezes planned withdrawal

American troops in Germany serve our ‘mutual interest,’ Berlin says, after Biden freezes planned withdrawal

US soldiers stationed in Germany are an integral part of Trans-Atlantic friendship, Berlin has said, after President Joe Biden put a halt to the Trump administration's plan to relocate thousands of troops from the country.

“We have always been convinced that the stationing of American troops here in Germany serves European and Trans-Atlantic security and is, therefore, in our mutual interest,” spokesperson for the German government Steffen Seibert told reporters on Friday.

Seibert praised the decades of Berlin's military cooperation with the US. “This is part of the Trans-Atlantic friendship,” he said, adding, though, that the deployment of soldiers overseas is Washington’s internal affair.

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His remarks came a day after Biden confirmed the US is stopping the partial withdrawal of troops from Germany planned by his predecessor Donald Trump. Biden clarified that the final decision will depend on the US Secretary of Defense’s review of America's military presence and movements.

Commander of the American and NATO forces in Europe, US Air Force General Tod Wolters, said earlier this week that the previously planned troop movements will be “reexamined from cradle to grave.”

Trump wanted to remove 12,000 of the around 36,000 US soldiers stationed in Germany and to relocate United States European Command HQ from Stuttgart to Mons, Belgium. Trump frequently argued that Berlin was not contributing enough to NATO, and attacked Germany’s leadership for refusing to axe the near-complete Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Europe.

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The former president’s dismissive rhetoric prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel to publicly admit that Europe cannot “rely” on Washington as much as it did before. However, officials in Berlin continue to maintain that a US military presence in Germany is key to peace and security in Europe.

Biden, on the other hand, has vowed to repair US ties with its traditional allies in Europe. “I want the world to hear today: America is back,” he said in a keynote speech on Thursday. “Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy.”

American troops have been stationed in Germany since the end of WWII and remained there after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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