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US envoy rebukes Germany on Hormuz patrol mission

President Donald J. Trump sits next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a working session at the G7 Summit | June 8, 2018 (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The U.S. ambassador to Germany chided Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government for its reluctance to join a U.S.-led maritime patrol mission in the Strait of Hormuz, saying Europe’s biggest economy must take on more responsibility.

U.S.-German relations have languished since U.S. President Donald Trump took office over differences on such issues as defense spending, trade tariffs, Iran, and the Russian-led Nord Stream project.

The United States has been trying to get Berlin to help secure shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz near Iran.

Tensions have increased in the past month between Tehran and the United States and Britain over a seized ship and drones that have been shot down near the strait.

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Speaking on July 31, German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said Berlin “is reluctant about the concrete U.S. proposal and has therefore not offered a contribution, as the overall approach of our policy toward Iran differs significantly from the current U.S. approach.”

Germany’s new Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer struck a more conciliatory note, saying no final decision had been made.

“We now have a first general request from the United States, the other international partners for a possible mission,” she told reporters before a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell expressed frustration about those decisions and said Germany’s actions should match the stature of its economic might.

“Germany is the biggest economic power in Europe. This success brings global responsibilities,” Grenell told the Allgemeine newspaper as cited by Reuters.

The U.S. ambassador brought up historic relations with Germany following World War II.

Speaking about the war’s aftermath and efforts to rebuild war-ravaged Europe, Grenell said, “American has sacrificed a lot to help Germany remain part of the West,” while mentioning that the United States pays money for its 34,000 soldiers to be stationed in Germany.

London last week ordered its navy to escort British-flagged vessels in the strait in response to Iranian soldiers seizing a tanker in the entrance to the Gulf.

Still, Germany remained “in close coordination with France and Britain” on questions of maritime security, Demmer said, adding that Berlin believed the idea of a European naval mission was “worth considering.”