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Reports on major US troop withdrawal raises concern in Germany

The German government's coordinator for transatlantic relations warned on Saturday that reported plans by the US to withdraw thousands of troops from the country could considerably damage German-US relations.

Berlin, 6 June 2020 (dpa/MIA) – The German government’s coordinator for transatlantic relations warned on Saturday that reported plans by the US to withdraw thousands of troops from the country could considerably damage German-US relations.

“The German-American relationship could be severely affected by such a decision by the US president,” Peter Beyer told dpa.

Beyer’s comments came in response to reports in the US and German media that President Donald Trump had decided to withdraw thousands of troops from Germany.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Trump had ordered 9,500 US personnel to be removed from NATO ally Germany, which hosts some 34,500 troops. News magazine Der Spiegel put the number to be withdrawn at between 5,000 and 15,000 by autumn of this year.

“It’s not just about 9,500 soldiers, but also their families, an estimated 20,000 Americans,” Beyer added. “This would break transatlantic bridges.”

There was no official confirmation of the reports from either side.

Lawmaker Johann Wedephul, the deputy head of the governing conservative bloc in parliament, said on Saturday that the reports and the apparent lack of consultation were a further sign that Europe needed to become more self-reliant in matters of defence.

“The plans demonstrate that the Trump administration is ignoring a basic task of leadership: to keep alliance partners involved in the decision process.”

“Everyone benefits from the unity of the alliance; only Russia and China benefit from disputes. Washington should be more aware of this,” he said.

Speculation that the Trump administration could pull troops from Germany – which has the largest US deployment in Europe – has long been rife.

The former US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, threatened such a withdrawal last year.

In an interview with dpa, he said it was “offensive” that US taxpayers must foot the bill for the deployment on German territory while “Germans get to spend their surplus on domestic programmes.”

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