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Steinmeier 'perplexed' by Trump's Nazi comment

Rebecca Staudenmaier
January 12, 2017

Steinmeier has said he "can't interpret" US President-elect Donald Trump's comparison of a leaked dossier to conditions in Nazi Germany. He also said Trump's penchant for Twitter won't last as a foreign policy strategy.

Frankreich Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Paris
Image: Reuters/B. Tessier

When asked on Thursday about comments US President-elect Donald Trump made a day earlier comparing the leaked report concerning him with actions taken by the Nazi regime, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was as confused as everyone else over the comparison.

"To be honest, about your question about the comparison with Nazi Germany, I am as perplexed as you are; I can't interpret that," Steinmeier responded in a press conference to a question on Trump's comments.

On Wednesday, Trump had railed against the US intelligence agencies, blaming them for leaking a dossier that contained unverified claims that Russia had compiled incriminating information on Trump.

He compared the leak and publication of the document to Nazi Germany first on Twitter and again during a press conference. During the later press conference, he said the leak was "something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do."

US Vice President Joe Biden called Trump's Nazi remarks "very damaging" and said they denigrate the intelligence agencies that protect the nation.

"It plays into, particularly now the Russian narrative, that America doesn't know what it's doing," Biden told reporters outside the White House on Thursday.

"The one thing you never want to invoke is Nazi Germany, no matter what the circumstances," the vice president said. "It's an overwhelming diversion from the point you're trying to make."

Critique on Trump's tweets

Steinmeier also took the opportunity to comment on Trump's foreign policy stances and his penchant for Twitter. The German minister said he couldn't imagine that Trump's foreign policy communications would continue to come in the form of tweets long after he takes office.

"I would not be in the position to formulate a foreign policy concept in 140 characters," Steinmeier added with a slight smile.

Referencing Trump's hour-long press conference on Wednesday - the first in nearly six months - Steinmeier said Trump's foreign policy stances continue to remain unclear.

"At this point, it still seems too early to identify a perspective for the future policies of the United States with regards to the Middle East, North Africa, or Iran," the German foreign minister said.

He added that remarks made by secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday "showed slightly different nuances."

During his confirmation hearing, Tillerson called Russia a "danger" and promised to protect Washington's European allies. He also rejected the idea of an immigration ban on Muslims.

President-elect Trump has already stirred controversy and diplomatic tensions with his Twitter usage. He has repeatedly used the social media platform to take jabs at China, demand that Mexico pay for a border wall and lambast actors who are critical of his views.