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Stoltenberg: World needs more German leadership

June 23, 2020

In an exclusive interview with DW, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called for Berlin to play a more prominent role in the alliance. His comments follow the US president's decision to withdraw troops from Germany.

Jens Stoltenberg
Image: picture-alliance/C. Cristel

Jens Stoltenberg speaks to DW

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg touted the importance of German leadership, following US President Donald Trump's controversial move to announce the withdrawal of 9,500 US troops from Germany.

"The world needs more German leadership," Stoltenberg told DW. "NATO needs German leadership. We all need Germany to play an even more important role because Germany is the largest economy in Europe."

Read more: Stoltenberg: US presence in Europe is important for NATO

The comments came after Trump last week confirmed his intention to cut the number of US troops to 25,000. German ministers including Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas have criticized the plan.

Stoltenberg added that he spoke with Trump about the move prior to the official announcement, and urged him to maintain the US presence in Europe.

"It's important for Europe, but it's also important for the United States," he said. "Peace and stability in Europe adds to the security of North America."

The US has maintained an established military presence in Germany since the Convention on the Presence of Foreign Forces in the Federal Republic of Germany was signed in 1954. The convention allowed eight NATO members, including the US, to maintain a permanent presence.

In the interview, Stoltenberg highlighted an increase in Germany's defense budget as significant.

Read more: Berlin says Washington benefits from US troops in Germany

"I value Germany as a very strong and important ally. And Germany is now actually investing significantly more in defense."

"Germany now has the largest defense budget with the European Union, and third in NATO behind the United Kingdom and the United States ... In uncertain times, we need strong multilateral institutions," he said. 

lc/rc (AP, Reuters)