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Trump's actions have 'weakened the West'

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German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel criticises US president

BERLIN: Germany unleashed a volley of criticism on Monday against US President Donald Trump, slamming his "shortsighted" policies that have "weakened the West" and hurt European interests.

The sharp words from German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel came after Mr Trump concluded his first official tour abroad, which took him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Brussels and then Italy for a G7 summit.

They followed Chancellor Angela Merkel's warning on Sunday that the United States and Britain may no longer be completely reliable partners.

Germany's exasperation was laid bare after the G7 summit, which wrapped up on Saturday, with the US refusing so far to sign up to upholding the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Days earlier, in Saudi Arabia, Mr Trump had presided over the single largest US arms deal in US history, worth US$110 billion (S$152 billion) over the next decade and including ships, tanks and anti-missile systems.

Mr Gabriel said "anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones and who does not want to politically resolve religious conflicts is putting peace in Europe at risk".

"The shortsighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union," he said, judging that "the West has become smaller, at least it has become weaker".

"We Europeans must fight for more climate protection, fewer weapons and against religious (fanaticism), otherwise the Middle East and Africa will be further destabilised."

We Europeans must fight for more climate protection, fewer weapons and against religious (fanaticism), otherwise the Middle East and Africa will be further destabilised.German Foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel

Yesterday, Mr Trump hit back on Twitter to complain about a US trade deficit with Germany and his belief that the country must pay more for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) military alliance.

"We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military (sic)," he wrote. "Very bad for US. This will change."

At a Nato meeting on Thursday, he lambasted 23 of the 28 members - including Germany - for "still not paying what they should be paying" towards the funding of the bloc.

After the Nato and G7 summits, Dr Merkel said at an election rally in Germany that "the times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I've experienced that in the last few days".

"We, the Europeans, will have to take our fate into our own hands. Our friendship with the US, the UK, our neighbourly relationship with Russia and also with other countries count, of course.

"But we must know, we have to fight for our own future," she said.

In response to her comments, Britain said it would be a "strong partner" to Germany.

"As we begin the negotiations about leaving the EU, we will be able to reassure Germany and other European countries that we are going to be a strong partner to them in defence and security and, we hope, in trade," Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd told BBC radio.

Separately, France's Defence Minister Sylvie Goulard said Mr Trump's broadside at Nato allies could boost efforts towards a common European defence policy. - AFP

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