The German government on Friday welcomed President Joe Biden’s decision to formally halt the planned withdrawal of US troops from Germany, arguing the troops’ stationing there is “in our mutual interest”.
Last year, then-President Donald Trump announced he was going to pull out about 9,500 of the roughly 34,500 US troops stationed in Germany, but the withdrawal never actually began.
Biden said Thursday the pullout would be halted until defence secretary Lloyd Austin reviews America’s troop presence around the globe.
“The German government welcomes this announcement,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters in Berlin. He said: “We will remain in contact with the new American administration on its further plans.”
“We have always been convinced that the stationing of American troops here in Germany serves European and transatlantic security, and so is in our mutual interest,” Seibert said. “We very much value this close, decades-long cooperation with the Americans’ forces that are stationed in Germany.”
Asked whether Germany would make any concrete offers to persuade the US not to withdraw troops, Seibert said Berlin will follow developments but “how these reviews go is an internal American matter”.
The US has several key military facilities in Germany, including Ramstein Air Base, the headquarters for US European Command and US Africa Command, and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the largest American military hospital outside the United States.
Trump’s order met resistance from Congress as well as from within the military, which has long relied on Germany as a key ally and base of operations.
Trump announced the troop cuts after repeatedly accusing Germany of not paying enough for its own defence, calling the longtime NATO ally “delinquent” for failing to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defence, a benchmark that alliance members have pledged to work towards.