US envoy slams Germany after reluctance on Hormuz mission

Relations between the United States and Germany have soured since US President Donald Trump took office. (File/AFP)
Updated 01 August 2019

US envoy slams Germany after reluctance on Hormuz mission

  • German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas ruled out German participation in a planned US-led naval mission to the Strait of Hormuz
  • Expressing frustration about that decision, Ambassador Richard Grenell said Germany had a duty to fulfil

BERLIN: The US ambassador to Germany launched a scathing attack on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government on Thursday for its reluctance to join a naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz, saying Europe’s biggest economy must assume more global responsibility.
Relations between the United States and Germany have soured since US President Donald Trump took office, due to disagreements on a range of issues from defense spending to trade tariffs, the NordStream 2 gas pipeline and Iran.
On Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas ruled out German participation in a planned US-led naval mission to the Strait of Hormuz, close to Iran, after the US said it had made a formal request. He said Germany wanted to ease tensions with Iran and everything should be done to avoid an escalation.
Expressing frustration about that decision, Ambassador Richard Grenell said Germany had a duty to fulfil and told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper:
“Germany is the biggest economic power in Europe. This success brings global responsibilities.”
He said the United States had been trying to get support from Germany for weeks for the military mission in the Strait of Hormuz, and that while one minister spoke of looking at the requests, the foreign minister had rejected it.
Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had said in Brussels that Germany was “reviewing” the request, striking a softer tone than Maas.
On the front line of the Cold War, West Germany was one of the United States’ closest allies, embraced as a bulwark against Communism after the World War Two defeat of Nazi rule.
“America has sacrificed a lot to help Germany remain part of the West,” Grenell told the newspaper, adding Americans were paying huge sums for 34,000 soldiers to be stationed in Germany.
Grenell has courted controversy since arriving in Berlin last year with his outspoken views and criticism of Germany.
On another issue that has caused friction, a US Senate committee on Wednesday passed a bill to slap sanctions on companies, including several German firms, and individuals involved in building the NordStream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.


Philippines and India agree to strengthen defense, security ties

In this handout photograph taken and released by Indian Presidential Palace on October 18, 2019, India's President Ram Nath Kovind (C-L) attends a press conference with Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte (C-R) at Malacanan Palace in Manila. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2019

Philippines and India agree to strengthen defense, security ties

  • The two leaders agreed to strengthen maritime security ties

MANILA: The Philippines and India have agreed to boost defense and security cooperation following talks between President Rodrigo Duterte and his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind on Friday.
Kovind is in Manila as part of a five-day official visit to the Philippines that began on Thursday.
In a joint statement, Duterte said he and Kovind have committed to building a “partnership” between the Philippines and India “that enables us to face challenges to our hard-won progress, jointly and effectively.”
As Duterte welcomed India’s role in his country’s defense capability upgrade program, against the backdrop of growing security cooperation, he said they have agreed “to continue working together to fight terrorism and violent extremism and other transboundary threats.”
Kovind said “both of our countries have been victims of terrorism,” and the two leaders “committed to work closely to defeat and eliminate terrorism in all its forms
and manifestations.”
He added: “As two vibrant democracies that believe in a rules-based international order, respect for international law and sovereign equality of nations, the Philippines and India are natural partners in the pursuit of their respective national development and security objectives.”
The two leaders also agreed to strengthen maritime security ties.
“As countries strategically located in the Pacific and Indian oceans, we affirmed our shared interest to protect our maritime commons and advance the rule of law in our maritime domains,” Duterte said.

BACKGROUND

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind said ‘both of our countries have been victims of terrorism,’ and the two leaders ‘committed to work closely to defeat and eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.’

He added that they also discussed “the most pressing concerns of our region and beyond, such as maritime security and economic integration.”
Following their meeting, they witnessed the signing of maritime, tourism, science, technology and cultural agreements.
Among them was a memorandum of understanding between the Philippine Coast Guard and the Indian Navy to enhance maritime security by sharing information on nonmilitary and nongovernment shipping vessels between the two countries.
“With the signing of bilateral agreements, we have likewise widened the path toward enhancement of our engagement in maritime security, science and technology, tourism and cultural cooperation,” Duterte said.
“We hope to look back on this day as a milestone in our relations, the day when we set out to turn promise into reality, and potential into concrete benefits that bring the greatest positive impact on the lives of our peoples.”