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Germany welcomes US troop withdrawal freeze under Biden

The German government on Friday welcomed a decision by President Joe Biden to put on hold plans to reduce US troops in Germany, saying their presence was in the countries' mutual interest.

Germany welcomes US troop withdrawal freeze under Biden
An American soldier stationed in Germany, in front of Dresden's Military History Museum in 2016. Photo: DPA

“We have always been convinced that American troops being stationed here in Germany serves European and transatlantic security and hence is in our mutual interest,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.

As part of a major foreign and security policy overhaul presented Thursday, Biden announced a freeze on plans set in motion by his predecessor Donald Trump to reduce the US troop presence in Germany, a cornerstone of NATO security since the start of the Cold War.

READ ALSO: What could Joe Biden as US president mean for Germany?

Trump's decision was seen as linked to his tense relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and his frequent complaints that Europe's top economy spent too little on defence.

The United States has had US troops stationed in Germany since World War II but their numbers have declined since the fall of the Berlin Wall from some 200,000 soldiers in 1990 to 34,500 today.

Although the prospect had been looming for years, Trump's decision in July to redeploy 12,000 soldiers from Germany still came as a shock, particularly to towns that have built strong economic and cultural ties to the US military.

READ ALSO: Trump to withdraw 'thousands of US soldiers from Germany' under Biden

“We strongly value the close, decades-long cooperation with the American troops stationed in Germany,” Seibert said.

He said the communities hosting GIs appreciated their presence, calling the bases “part of the lived transatlantic friendship”.  

Seibert said German officials were in “consultations” with the US administration about “further planning” but that the decision how to shape the future American military footprint in Europe was a “US domestic issue”.

Member comments

  1. Of course the German government is happy because grey won’t have to increase their defence spending they are happy for the US to keep paying. Why do we need the US forces in Europe.

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POLL

Here’s what Germans think about Joe Biden becoming US President

Germans have previously said that outgoing US President Donald Trump is their greatest source of angst. So what exactly do they think about Joe Biden's win and his plans?

Here's what Germans think about Joe Biden becoming US President
US President-elect Joe Biden when he was US Vice President, and Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2013. Photo: DPA

There's an overwhelmingly positive view from the Bundesrepublik: nine out of ten Germans (89 percent) think it is “very good” or “good” that Biden won the recent US election.

In fact, only seven percent of those surveyed in the ARD Deutschlandtrend representative poll rate the election result as “not so good” or “bad”.

And a massive 80 percent of respondents to the representative survey believe that German-American relations will improve with Biden when he takes over as US President early next year.

It's a huge contrast to how Germans felt after the election of Donald Trump in 2016: at that time, 57 percent expected German-American relations to deteriorate.

A recent poll showed the worry is still strong. Trump took the top spot this year as the greatest source of German fear for the second time since 2018 in the survey conducted by insurance firm R+V. A total of 53 percent said they believe his policies make the world a more dangerous place.

READ ALSO: Germans 'more worried about Trump than coronavirus'

 

What do Germans think about Biden's proposals?

Biden's initial plan for the period after he comes office is also supported among Germans, according to the ARD survey.

These include the USA returning to the World Health Organisation and re-entering into the Paris Climate Agreement – something that 9 out of 10 Germans support.

Respondents also expect improvements for the domestic situation in the US: 90 percent support Biden's desire to develop an action plan as quickly as possible to control the coronavirus pandemic in the states.

READ ALSO: 'The world may respect us more': How Americans in Germany reacted to US elections

Unclear if Biden can make changes

A total of 85 percent of Germans believe that the USA will develop positively overall under Biden.

However, they also see possible limits to his actions: whether Biden can actually initiate major reforms also depends on what the majority balance in Congress will be like in the future. And whether the Democrats will be in the minority in the Senate or whether they will take control.

That will be decided in the January runoff election in the state of Georgia. There, two seats for the Senate are still at stake. If the Democrats are able to win them, they could be able to take control of the Senate.

But that is not yet the case – and currently 71 percent of Germans think that Biden will not achieve many of his goals because he is dependent on cooperation with the Republicans.

On another important issue – the reconciliation of the nation – Germans are cautiously optimistic: 56 percent trust Biden to overcome the divisions in US society.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this week congratulated Biden on his election win. She said Germany would stand with the US to tackle global problems.

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