Tensions ERUPT between USA and Germany over China spying fears



U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo exits his plane upon arrival at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany, Friday, May 31, 2019.

In his first visit to Germany as USA secretary of state, Mike Pompeo met Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin for talks that focused on Iran and China.

Pompeo issued the warning after meeting his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Berlin, which has so far stood with European partners in resisting USA calls to ban the state-owned manufacturer from 5G mobile networks now being built.

Germany, like many of its European partners, remains skeptical of the Trump administration's hardline stance towards Iran - including its decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

"When we think about INSTEX, if it's aimed at facilitating the movement of goods that are authorized to move, it's unproblematic", he said.

The German Foreign Ministry said on its website: "Germany and the US agree: For the security of the region, it is crucial that Iran does not come into possession of nuclear weapons".

Merkel said that despite the differences between the United States and Germany the two sides agree that Iran must be prevented from taking "aggressive actions" and said the global community must ensure that Iran does not have nuclear weapons.

But in comments on Iran in an interview to run in German daily Bild on Saturday, Pompeo said: "We hope Germany does more". "It's no secret that we differ on how to achieve that".

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On the subject of 5G technology, Pompeo also reiterated calls from Washington to exclude telecommunications giant Chinese giant Huawei from helping develop 5G networks in Germany over security concerns.

He said the US worries that sensitive data could "end up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party" and that in the case of Huawei, "it is not possible to mitigate" the risks.

"We've been pretty clear about how we view the risks connected to Huawei and 5G infrastructure".

Maas reiterated that Germany was not prepared to exclude any company from bidding, but that any firm that could not meet security standards would be rejected. The US has repeatedly criticized the plans, saying Europe's increased dependence on Russian Federation for energy would pose a security issue.

Pompeo refused to comment, however, on whether the USA was prepared to sanction German companies involved in the project. But he says the US will not relent on a punishing USA sanctions campaign targeting Iran.

Merkel herself had just flown back from the United States the night before after delivering a speech to graduating Harvard students in which she exhorted them to "tear down walls of ignorance" and to stand for truth over lies - words widely interpreted as veiled criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump. Merkel also said leaders should not "describe lies as truth and truth as lies".

Among the problems she mentioned, there was the US' attempt to bring Iran's oil exports to zero to hinder Tehran's "aggressive actions", while Germany - together with the United Kingdom and France - is trying to keep alive the JCPOA, Iran nuclear deal. They took no questions.

From Berlin, Pompeo traveled to Switzerland, for an unusual and extended stop in the country that represents the United States diplomatically in Iran and has in the past been an intermediary between the two.

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