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ANGELA MERKEL

‘Lots of issues with Germany’: Pompeo starts Europe tour in Berlin

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Germany Thursday to make up a visit he canceled at the last minute in early May to the close US ally, which has rocky relations with President Donald Trump.

'Lots of issues with Germany': Pompeo starts Europe tour in Berlin
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lands at Tegel airport on Friday morning. Photo: DPA

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Germany Thursday to make up a visit he canceled at the last minute in early May to the close US ally, which has rocky relations with President Donald Trump.

Germany will be the first stop in a four-nation tour of Europe in which Pompeo will also visit Switzerland and the Netherlands before joining Trump on his state visit to Britain.

In Berlin on Friday, Pompeo is scheduled to meet German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Chancellor Angela Merkel after he abruptly postponed talks with them on May 7th.

SEE ALSO: Pompeo to make up Germany talks on Europe trip

Pompeo, on his previous tour of Europe, took a major detour to visit Iraq to discuss security as tensions rose sharply between the United States and Iran.

Trump has repeatedly clashed with Merkel, taking her to task for Germany's welcome of migrants, in open criticism that would have barely been imaginable from a US president before the real estate mogul's surprise 2016 election.

Merkel, in the United States on Thursday to deliver a commencement address at Harvard University, leveled thinly veiled criticism of Trump as she deplored “walls” and “lies described as truth.”

She also called on the world to do all “humanly possible” to combat climate change — an issue which Pompeo calls a low priority.

Differences on Iran — or cooperation?

Germany, among other European allies of Washington, is skeptical of the hardline US approach to Iran and favors a 2015 agreement, from which Trump withdrawn, on curbing Tehran's nuclear program.

After weeks of escalating tensions in which the United States deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and nuclear-capable bombers to the region, Trump has moved away from his more hawkish advisers by saying he wants talks with Iran.

Pompeo has said that the United States has channels to communicate with Iran. While he has not revealed details, Switzerland — his second stop on the trip – handles US interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington.

Speaking to reporters as he flew out, Pompeo said that the United States always had “lots of issues with Germany” and that “Iran will be just some part of that conversation.”

Germany has been a key partner of the United States in Afghanistan, where Trump is seeking to withdraw US troops after nearly two decades of fighting.

But the allies also have major differences with Germany defying US warnings to build Nord Stream 2, a major new natural gas pipeline with Russia that would bypass Ukraine, where Moscow backs separatists.

Germany has also refused to follow the US lead on banning Chinese telecom company Huawei from developing fifth-generation technology amid Washington's concerns that the firm will jeopardize security and privacy due to its government ties.

“Everywhere I go, we talk about the opportunities and challenges that China presents not only to the United States and its security but to countries around the world,” Pompeo said.

A US official said that Pompeo would address Huawei and say that allies' choices on telecom networks have “a direct bearing on our mutual national security.”

SEE ALSO: German IT watchdog says 'no evidence' of Huawei spying

Member comments

  1. ………like trump an embarassing stupid fat f**k…………
    entschuldigung an meine deutschen freunde für diese clowns …………

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POLITICS

Sleep, seaside, potato soup: What will Merkel do next?

 After 16 years in charge of Europe's biggest economy, the first thing Angela Merkel wants to do when she retires from politics is take "a little nap". But what about after that?

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes and smiles at a 2018 press conference in Berlin.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes at a 2018 press conference in Berlin. Aside from plans to take "a little nap" after retiring this week, she hasn't given much away about what she might do next. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The veteran chancellor has been tight-lipped about what she will do after handing over the reins to her successor Olaf Scholz on December 8th.

During her four terms in office, 67-year-old Merkel was often described as the most powerful woman in the world — but she hinted recently that she will not miss being in charge.

“I will understand very quickly that all this is now someone else’s responsibility. And I think I’m going to like that situation a lot,” she said during a trip to Washington this summer.

Famous for her stamina and her ability to remain fresh after all-night meetings, Merkel once said she can store sleep like a camel stores water.

But when asked about her retirement in Washington, she replied: “Maybe I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will start to close because I’m tired, so I’ll take a little nap, and then we’ll see where I show up.”

READ ALSO: ‘Eternal’ chancellor: Germany’s Merkel to hand over power
READ ALSO: The Merkel-Raute: How a hand gesture became a brand

‘See what happens’
First elected as an MP in 1990, just after German reunification, Merkel recently suggested she had never had time to stop and reflect on what else she might like to do.

“I have never had a normal working day and… I have naturally stopped asking myself what interests me most outside politics,” she told an audience during a joint interview with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“As I have reached the age of 67, I don’t have an infinite amount of time left. This means that I want to think carefully about what I want to do in the next phase of my life,” she said.

“Do I want to write, do I want to speak, do I want to go hiking, do I want to stay at home, do I want to see the world? I’ve decided to just do nothing to begin with and see what happens.”

Merkel’s predecessors have not stayed quiet for long. Helmut Schmidt, who left the chancellery in 1982, became co-editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a popular commentator on political life.

Helmut Kohl set up his own consultancy firm and Gerhard Schroeder became a lobbyist, taking a controversial position as chairman of the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

German writer David Safier has imagined a more eccentric future for Merkel, penning a crime novel called Miss Merkel: Mord in der Uckermark  that sees her tempted out of retirement to investigate a mysterious murder.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel forms her trademark hand gesture, the so-called “Merkel-Raute” (known in English as the Merkel rhombus, Merkel diamond or Triangle of Power). (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)
 

Planting vegetables
Merkel may wish to spend more time with her husband Joachim Sauer in Hohenwalde, near Templin in the former East Germany where she grew up, and where she has a holiday home that she retreats to when she’s weary.

Among the leisure activities she may undertake there is vegetable, and especially, potato planting, something that she once told Bunte magazine in an interview in 2013 that she enjoyed doing.

She is also known to be a fan of the volcanic island of D’Ischia, especially the remote seaside village of Sant’Angelo.

Merkel was captured on a smartphone video this week browsing the footwear in a Berlin sportswear store, leading to speculation that she may be planning something active.

Or the former scientist could embark on a speaking tour of the countless universities from Seoul to Tel Aviv that have awarded her honorary doctorates.

Merkel is set to receive a monthly pension of around 15,000 euros ($16,900) in her retirement, according to a calculation by the German Taxpayers’ Association.

But she has never been one for lavish spending, living in a fourth-floor apartment in Berlin and often doing her own grocery shopping.

In 2014, she even took Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to her favourite supermarket in Berlin after a bilateral meeting.

So perhaps she will simply spend some quiet nights in sipping her beloved white wine and whipping up the dish she once declared as her favourite, a “really good potato soup”.

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