Germany seeks 'new cooperation' with US

Germany's foreign minister has described the trans-Atlantic relationship as pivotal, saying: "We cannot do without the US." He is on a mission to revive relations as Washington continues to distance itself from allies.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday said he is seeking "new cooperation" as he heads to the US in a bid to revive the trans-Atlantic relationship.

"We cannot do without the US," Maas said prior to departing. "We therefore want to strengthen our partnership and, where necessary, reposition it."

Maas is scheduled to meet with his opposite number Mike Pompeo and discuss a range of topics, including the fight against the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group, the conflict in Afghanistan and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

US President Donald Trump has pledged to withdraw the US from Syria and significantly decrease troops in Afghanistan, moves that Berlin has criticized as premature.

'Disarming'

On the INF, the White House has threatened to withdraw from the Soviet-era treaty, which was pivotal for nuclear disarmament towards the end of the Cold War. But Washington has hit out at Moscow for allegedly violating the treaty with its Iskander-M 9M729 nuclear-capable missiles.

Before his departure, Foreign Minister Maas called on Moscow to "verifiably rid itself of the prohibited cruise missile. It remains important for us to coordinate closely within NATO — that also applies to a possible future without the INF."

"I have spoken to my Russian colleague about it and told him we're banking on Russia correcting its violations of the treaty and disarming its cruise missiles so that the INF treaty still has a chance," Maas added.

Read more: Opinion: Europe caught in a dangerous nuclear trap

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INF: Major arms treaty under threat

Trans-Atlantic problems

Germany's relations with the US have taken a notable downturn under Trump. The US president has described German trade policy as "very bad" and called on Berlin to spend more on defense to meet NATO's non-binding targets.

In October, Trump took things further when talking about trade policy, saying "nobody treats us much worse than the European Union."

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"The European Union was formed in order to take advantage of us on trade, and that's what they've done," Trump said in a televised interview. The EU was in fact formed, with US assistance and encouragement, in a bid to prevent a repeat of the first and second World Wars, partly by fostering such deep trade ties between members as to render future wars pointless.

In January, DW broke the news that without warning, the US State Department had downgraded the EU delegation's diplomatic status from member state to international organization, triggering fury from European officials and US lawmakers alike.

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Donald Trump on Germany: Top quotes

The good, the bad and the ugly

US President Donald Trump has offered both candid praise and unabashed criticism of Germany and its policies. From calling German Chancellor Angela Merkel "possibly the greatest world leader" to describing her open-door refugee policy as a "catastrophic mistake," here are his most memorable quotes regarding Germany.

Donald Trump on Germany: Top quotes

'Greatest'

"Germany's like sitting back silent, collecting money and making a fortune with probably the greatest leader in the world today, Merkel," Trump said in a 2015 interview with US news magazine Time.

Donald Trump on Germany: Top quotes

'Very bad'

"The Germans are bad, very bad ... Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US. Terrible. We'll stop that," Trump said during a NATO leaders summit, according to German news magazine Der Spiegel, which cited sources at the alliance's meeting.

Donald Trump on Germany: Top quotes

'Something in common'

"As far as wiretapping, I guess, by - you know - [the Obama] administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps," Trump said in March during a press conference with Merkel. He was referring to his unproven allegations that ex-President Barack Obama tapped his phone. There was widespread anger in Germany in 2013 when it was revealed the US National Security Agency tapped Merkel's phone.

Donald Trump on Germany: Top quotes

'Illegals'

"I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals (sic), you know taking all of the people from wherever they come from," Trump said in a joint interview published by German daily Bild and British newspaper The Times, referring to Merkel's open-door policy for refugees fleeing war and persecution.

Donald Trump on Germany: Top quotes

'Germany owes vast sums of money'

"Despite what you have heard from the fake news, I had a great meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO and the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany," Trump said in a two-tweet statement after meeting with Merkel for the first time in March 2017.

Donald Trump on Germany: Top quotes

'Turning their backs'

"The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition," Trump tweeted in the midst of a row within the German goverment. He went on to claim that: "Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!"

ls/msh (dpa, AFP, AP)