State Secretary Mike Pompeo has arrived to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday, three weeks after abruptly postponing his first visit to Germany as secretary of state.
Pompeo told reporters before his departure for Berlin that the talks would cover the nuclear Iran deal, issues surrounding the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and Germany’s defence spending – all sticking points in the transatlantic partners’ relations, Reuters reported.
Germany is trying to rescue the Iranian nuclear deal while the U.S., which is no longer a party to it, is putting pressure on Tehran through economic sanctions.
Washington is also pressuring its allies, including Germany, to exclude Huawei from involvement in the rollout of the 5G high-speed internet infrastructure, saying the firm poses a security risk.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused Germany of taking advantage of the U.S. by spending too little on defence. Before arriving in Berlin, Pompeo said President Trump was still “not satisified” by recent small increases in German defence spending.
Germany-U.S. relations have been tense since Trump took office in early 2017.
The U.S.’ top diplomat said before his arrival in Berlin that he regretted not sticking to the appointment that he missed three weeks prior – interpreted by some as a snub.
Pompeo said at that time that he needed to head to Iraq instead due to “pressing issues” amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, irritating the governing coalition in Berlin.
It has not gone unnoticed in Germany that it has taken more than a year for Pompeo to visit Germany since becoming Washington’s top diplomat.
He passed on an opportunity to attend the Munich Security Conference in February even though he was already in Europe at the time of the gathering.
Pompeo will appear jointly with Maas in a news conference. When Maas visited Washington earlier this year, Pompeo avoided facing journalists’ questions with his German colleague.