Published: Mon, June 03, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Pompeo visits Germany as tensions rise between US, Iran

Pompeo visits Germany as tensions rise between US, Iran

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that Washington will not stand in the way of a system that Europeans are developing to shield companies dealing with Iran from American sanctions, so long as the focus is on providing humanitarian and other permitted goods.

He told reporters after meeting Mr Maas: "There is a risk we will have to change our behaviour in light of the fact that we can't permit data on private citizens or data on national security to go across networks that we don't have confidence in".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Germany to also ban the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah during his state visit on Friday, saying it should follow the UK's lead.

Following the meeting with Maas, Pompeo held brief talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had just returned from a trip to the U.S.to give a commencement speech at Harvard. Addressing media, however, Merkel reiterated that, despite the differences, the U.S. remained Germany's "closest partner outside Europe".

Maas, speaking at his earlier press conference with Pompeo Friday morning, said the two countries "are now going in different ways" on Iran.

Pompeo urged close ally Britain this month not to use Huawei's technology to build new 5G networks because of concerns it could be a vehicle for Chinese spying.

In Switzerland, which represents US interests in Tehran, including USA citizens detained in the country, Pompeo will meet Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis and attend the Bilderberg conference, a secretive meeting of USA and European officials and business leaders being held this year in Montreux.

The US is at odds with its German allies on a host of issues, from trade to military spending and nuclear non-proliferation.

Pompeo's stop in Berlin makes up for a visit that he abruptly called off in early May to fly to Iraq. Both wanted to deter Iran from the acquisition of nuclear weapons and expect Tehran to answer questions about its ballistic missile program.

Pompeo said he would also discuss Iran, an issue on which the Trump administration has split with Germany and other European allies by withdrawing from a 2015 global nuclear deal.

Iran's decision this month to backtrack from some commitments under the accord - in response to USA measures to cripple its economy - threatens to unravel the deal.

Pompeo and Maas also tackled the thorny topic of Huawei. A German envoy seeking to preserve the nuclear deal visited Iran last week.

INSTEX is not yet up and running, but Europeans hope to have it functioning by this summer. "Free democracies have a duty to protect the world from this threat". It is Pompeo's first visit to Berlin since taking office over a year ago.

"The federal government has given the promise of 2% and the people should demand that the government keeps its promise", he said in usually blunt comments towards a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

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