Washington (AP) - Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wants to strengthen military cooperation with the US to stabilize relations.
Washington remains the most important ally, said the Minister and CDU chief to kick off her first trip to the new post in Washington. Germany must be prepared to take on more responsibility. "The fact is that new trouble spots are emerging around us," Kramp-Karrenbauer said on the outbound flight on Sunday. "Always just to say, there are the others, is less and less accepted."
The focus of the trip is a first personal meeting with her US colleague Mark Esper on late Monday afternoon German time. At the meeting in the Pentagon, an exchange on the procedure for joint operations is expected.
This includes German participation in the fight against the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and in the airspace over Syria. The escalating tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia should also be discussed. Also: Afghanistan, where the US has held talks with the radical Islamic Taliban on how to find a solution to the peace after a series of serious attacks. "At the end of the day, the solution in Afghanistan will be a political one," Kramp-Karrenbauer said. The Bundeswehr has stationed soldiers in Afghanistan as part of a NATO training mission.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the federal government for under-spending defense spending. Kramp-Karrenbauer called for a regular increase in defense spending and that Germany had to comply with commitments in NATO.
In 2014, NATO decided that each Member State should reach its target of spending two percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense by 2024. The federal government expects this year with a share of 1.36 percent - it emphasizes that German defense spending rose sharply.
"I keep two percent at the finish. But for 2024, my goal is 1.5 percent, "said Kramp-Karrenbauer on the flight to Washington. The debate should not only be shortened to funds, but also relevant was the question of whether and where Germany assumes responsibility. "It's not just about cash. It's also about international engagement, "she said.
Your interlocutor Esper was stationed as a younger man in Germany as a soldier. He had taken over the office in the Pentagon after some turbulent changes at the head of the US Department of Defense and in the midst of tensions with Iran. Esper was previously "Secretary of the Army", so that the highest-ranking civilian in the US Army and directly subordinate to the Secretary of Defense.
One of his first major acts was the commissioning of the new Command of the US Forces in Space ("Space Command"). "When it comes to defending America, it's not enough just to have an American presence in space," President Trump had said. "We must have American supremacy in space."