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Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Image: picture alliance/CITYPRESS 24

Steinmeier: 'Substantial change' in trans-Atlantic ties

May 7, 2018

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said he is worried about European relations with the US. He said the US administration no longer believes in the idea of a global community.


Trans-Atlantic relations are in a state of worrying change, with a US administration that takes an "every man for himself" approach to global affairs, the German president said on Sunday in an interview with German public-service broadcaster ARD.

His remarks come as Europe remains at odds with US President Donald Trump over trade, defense and the Iran nuclear deal.

Read more: European powers reaffirm support for Iran nuclear deal

Donald Trump
Trump has railed at the nuclear deal with IranImage: picture-alliance/Pacific Press/M. Candelori

Going it alone

"Honestly speaking, I'm really concerned about the development of the trans-Atlantic relationship," Steinmeier said.

"Not because I'm looking at a president with some irritating Twitter messages, but because a substantial change is now going on and (there is) a new American administration that no longer sees us as parts of a global community where we act together but sees the world basically as an arena where everyone has to somehow find their own way."

Steinmeier, the former German foreign minister, said that both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron had "done the right thing by pointing to some common European interests" not only on trade, but also with regard to the nuclear deal with Iran, during their recent visits to Washington.

Read more: US-German conflicts — what you need to know

Fears of Middle East rearmament

Turning to the Iran deal, from which Trump is considering withdrawing, Steinmeier quoted former US Secretary of State John Kerry as saying: "We have to be clear that with this signing we have probably prevented a war."

"That was an important sentence because one has to remember what could happen if this agreement collapses again and new rearmament takes place in the Middle East," Steinmeier said, adding that the region could "not endure another conflict."

Read more: Emmanuel Macron's risky role as Donald Trump's best friend 

France's Macron decries nationalism in speech to US Congress

Widespread European concern: Steinmeier's comments echo those made by several European politicians since Trump took power more than a year ago, pledging to implement a policy of "America First." Among other things, Trump has threatened punitive tariffs on metal imports from the EU and to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, which Germany and France helped broker.

Read more: Can the trans-Atlantic relationship survive Donald Trump?

tj/aw (AFP, dpa)

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