Spotlight on first meeting between Gabriel and Tillerson | News | DW | 02.02.2017
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Foreign relations

Spotlight on first meeting between Gabriel and Tillerson

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel is flying to Washington to meet the newly sworn in US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The trip follows hefty German criticism of President Donald Trump's start.

Deutschland Außenminister Gabriel Aufbruch Reise in die USA (picture-alliance/dpa/B.v. Jutrczenka)

Gabriel departing Berlin's Tegel airport

Gabriel departed Berlin Thursday offering what he termed "friendship and trust" during talks with Tillerson, a former oil industry executive with past links to Russia. It is also possible that the new German foreign minister will meet with US Vice President Mike Pence.

A meeting between Trump and Gabriel, who is also Germany's vice chancellor and was economy minister before switching to foreign affairs last Friday, was not planned.

On departure, Gabriel said Germany wanted to "clarify" its views, interests and values with the Trump administration in an "open and friendly dialogue."

Gabriel is due to be the first foreign minister to visit Tillerson, who was sworn late Wednesday after a 56-43 confirmation vote in the US Senate.

Last August during the US presidential campaign, Gabriel's predecessor Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is tipped to become Germany's largely ceremonial president, had described Trump as a "hate preacher."

On Trump's inauguration on January 20, Gabriel, referring to EU-Europe ties, saying Germany needed to brace itself.

Earlier this week, Gabriel said Berlin had "questions for the new US administration, about the shape of its foreign policy, its relationship to the [NATO] alliance and the world order."

Deutschland Treffen Steinmeier mit Filippo Grandi in Berlin (picture-alliance/dpa/R. Jensen)

Steinmeier has been outspoken on Trump

Shortly after Trump was inaugurated on January 20, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would work to retain the important trans-Atlantic relationship, also in view of Germany's hosting of the G20 group of nations in Hamburg in July.

Merkel, who on Thursday was due to visit Turkey's authoritarian President Reccip Erdogan, had a lengthy phone conversation with Trump last Saturday.

In unprompted remarks to journalists in Berlin earlier this week, she said Trump's US travel ban on travelers from seven Muslim nations contradicted "the basic tenets of international aid to refugees and international cooperation."

Trump had previously slammed Merkel's liberal refugee policy. On Tuesday, a Trump trade advisor Peter Navarro accused Germany of using a "grossly undervalued" euro.

ipj/kms (dpa, AP, AFP)

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