Iran, Syria on agenda as Mike Pompeo meets Germany's Merkel

German chancellor says brief talks with the US Secretary of State has Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya on the agenda.

    Germany is Mike Pompeo's first stop during a four-nation tour of Europe [Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]
    Germany is Mike Pompeo's first stop during a four-nation tour of Europe [Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has held 45-minute talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, discussing "plenty of issues" including Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya.

    Pompeo, who is on a five-day tour of Europe, arrived in Germany on Friday on his way to Switzerland, the Netherlands and before joining US President Donald Trump in the United Kingdom.

    Speaking at a news conference before the talks with Merkel, Pompeo sought to paper over differences with Germany in the face of a deepening rift with one of its major NATO allies.


    "Germany is a great, important partner and ally of the United States, that's why I am so happy to have this time today with Chancellor Merkel," he said.

    "There is important work for our two countries to do alongside our NATO partners and alongside all of our allies to achieve security for our own people, and stability and peace in as much of the world as we possibly can."

    Merkel said the two countries would "discuss plenty of issues, because the world is in great unrest".

    "First of all, the question of Iran and how do we prevent Iran coming into possession of nuclear weapons and also how we prevent further aggressive actions by Iran," she said.

    "We will talk about Afghanistan, where we both have stationed a significant number of troops on the ground. We will talk about the situation in Syria and also the very fragile situation in Libya."

    Al Jazeera's Dominic Kane, reporting from Berlin, said high on Pompeo's agenda was "to kill" a new trade framework that Europe's leaders are planning to set up to circumvent US sanctions on Iran.

    Washington says it will sanction anyone involved if the system created by France, Britain and Germany  - Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) - goes into effect.

    "Quite clearly, the Americans would like to kill INSTEX, but the Europeans are committed to the nuclear deal with Iran and they see it as their way of trying to keep Iran inside the deal for as long as possible," he said. 

    "The issue brought a big pressure on the ties of Germany and the US."

    Huawei row

    Earlier on Friday, Pompeo met German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, saying after the talks that the US may no longer share sensitive security information with nations that install next-generation networks, like those made by China's Huawei.

    Berlin has so far stood with European partners in resisting US calls to ban the state-owned manufacturer from 5G mobile networks now being built.

    "[There is] a risk we will have to change our behaviour in light of the fact that we can't permit data on private citizens or data on national security to go across networks in that we don't have confidence [in]," he told a news conference.

    The US is at odds with its German allies on a host of issues, from trade to military spending and nuclear non-proliferation.

    Pompeo's visit had been scheduled earlier this month, but was called off at the last minute as tensions rose over Iran, on whose nuclear programme Berlin and Washington do not see eye to eye.

    Pompeo also urged Germany to follow Britain in proscribing Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group and boost military spending.

    He also said the US was attempting to verify reports that a senior North Korean official involved in Pyongyang's non-proliferation talks with Washington had been executed.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies