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Trump's actions have 'weakened' the West, says German minister

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Trump's actions have 'weakened' the West, says German minister
Donald Trump (l) and Sigmar Gabriel (r). Photos: DPA.
16:43 CEST+02:00
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel unleashed a volley of criticism against US President Donald Trump, slamming his "short-sighted" policies that have "weakened the West" and hurt European interests.

The sharp words from Gabriel came after Trump concluded his first official tour abroad which took him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Brussels and then Italy for a G7 summit.

They also followed Chancellor Angela Merkel's warning on Sunday that the US and Britain may no longer be reliable partners.

Germany's exasperation was laid bare after the G7 summit which wrapped up on Saturday with the US refusing to sign up to upholding the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Days earlier, in Saudi Arabia, Trump had presided over the signing of the single largest US arms deal in American history, worth $110 billion over the next decade and including ships, tanks and anti-missile systems.

Gabriel said on Monday that "anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones and who does not want to politically resolve religious conflicts is putting peace in Europe at risk".

"The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union," he said, adding that "the West has become smaller, at least it has become weaker".

"We Europeans must fight for more climate protection, fewer weapons and against religious (fanaticism), otherwise the Middle East and Africa will be further destabilized," Gabriel said.

Merkel had called the climate talks "very unsatisfactory" due to the continued uncertainty about Trump's stance.

Gabriel also spoke of "a loss of the United States as an important nation" and said that the unsuccessful G7 talks would have a bigger impact.

"It is unfortunately a sign that the balance of power is changing in the world," Gabriel said. 

Trump announced in a tweet that he will make a decision soon on whether the United States will abide by the Paris agreement.

"I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!" Trump wrote on Saturday from the G7 summit in Sicily, where he had been pressed by US partners to commit to a framework aimed at stemming global warming.

'Take fate into our hands'

Germany's harsh words for Washington, traditionally a close ally, were highly unusual and came as relations have grown increasingly frosty. 

When Trump was inaugurated in January, Merkel had told the billionaire and social media star that cooperation would be on the basis of shared democratic values.

The relationship between Merkel and Trump contrasts with the warm ties between her and former US president Barack Obama - who last week travelled to Berlin to attend a key Protestant conference.

Obama's participation in a forum with Merkel last Thursday came on the eve of her meeting with Trump in Italy during the G7 summit.

After the summit, Merkel said at an election rally in southern Germany that "the times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I've experienced that in the last few days.

"We, the Europeans, will have to take our fate into our own hands. Our friendship with the US, the UK, our neighbourly relationship with Russia and also with other countries count of course. But we must know, we have to fight for our own future," she said.

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