Germany hails Biden’s move to halt Trump-ordered troop cuts

BERLIN (AP) — The German government on Friday welcomed President Joe Biden’s decision to formally halt the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany, arguing that the troops’ stationing there is “in our mutual interest.”

Last year, then-President Donald Trump announced that he was going to pull out about 9,500 of the roughly 34,500 U.S. troops stationed in Germany, but the withdrawal never actually began.

Biden said Thursday that the pullout would be halted until Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reviews America’s troop presence around the globe.

“The German government welcomes this announcement,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters in Berlin. He said that “we will remain in contact with the new American administration on its further plans.”

“We have always been convinced that the stationing of American troops here in Germany serves European and trans-Atlantic security, and so is in our mutual interest,” Seibert said. “We very much value this close, decades-long cooperation with the Americans’ forces that are stationed in Germany.”

Asked whether Germany would make any concrete offers to persuade the U.S. not to withdraw troops, Seibert said that Berlin will follow developments but “how these reviews go is an internal American matter.”

The U.S. has several major military facilities in Germany, including Ramstein Air Base, the headquarters for U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the largest American military hospital outside the United States.

Trump’s order met resistance from Congress as well as from within the military, which has long relied on Germany as a key ally and base of operations.

Trump announced the troop cuts after repeatedly accusing Germany of not paying enough for its own defense, calling the longtime NATO ally “delinquent” for failing to spend 2% of its GDP on defense, a benchmark that alliance members have pledged to work toward.

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