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Germany slams Trump's 'national selfishness'

September 21, 2017

Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned against focusing on national interests in his speech at the UN General Assembly. Gabriel has also called for a diplomatic solution to the North Korea crisis.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly
Image: Reuters/L. Jackson

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned against "national selfishness" in world politics on Thursday in his first speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

"This worldview describes the world as an arena, a kind of battleground, in which everyone is fighting against everyone else and in which everyone has to assert their own interests, either alone or in alliances of convenience," Gabriel told world leaders.

"The motto: 'Our country first' only leads to more national confrontations and less prosperity. In the end, there will only be losers," he said, in a thinly veiled reference to US President Donald Trump's oft-repeated slogan "Make America Great Again."

Gabriel's speech rejected Trump's previous remarks to the world body that encouraged world leaders to primarily consider their country's own interests, reiterating his statement that he will be putting "America first" when it comes to foreign policy.

"We have learned that it was not 'Germany first' that made our country strong and prosperous. Rather, it was only 'European and international responsibility first' that gave us Germans peace and prosperity," Gabriel said.

Read more: Donald Trump UN speech — Typical rhetoric raises tensions with North Korea and Iran

According to AFP and Reuters news agencies, ambassadors from the European Union's 28 member states agreed on a new set of sanctions to be placed on North Korea.

'All diplomatic means needed' in North Korea crisis

Gabriel urged the importance of cooperation — particularly when it comes to the North Korea crisis. 

He said Germany welcomes the recent round of sanctions approved by the UN Security Council against Pyongyang but added that the crisis is a global problem that "we have to master together."

"We have to make use of all diplomatic means at our disposal, first of all to defuse the situation, and subsequently to find a point of departure for longterm solutions," Gabriel said.

Read more: US President Donald Trump extends sanctions against North Korea

In an interview with DW, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that her government had a "clear disagreement with Trump over North Korea." She went on to offer to mediate between world powers and Pyongyang to reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also took a swipe at Trump during his speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, saying that the "military hysteria" over North Korea's missile launches and nuclear tests would lead to "disaster."

Likewise Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday urged for world leaders not to give up on dialogue and pushed for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

 "There is still hope for peace and we must not give up. Negotiation is the only way out and deserves every effort," Wang told world leaders.

In his maiden speech at the UN on Tuesday, Trump threatened that the United States would "totally destroy" North Korea if leader Kim Jong Un's regime threatens its neighbors.

rs/sms (AFP, dpa)

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