US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cancelled an official visit to Germany citing “pressing issues” while on a trip to Iraq and London.
The Iraq stopover followed warnings by Pompeo and White House national security adviser John Bolton that Iran appears to be preparing for attacks against US troops and other interests in the region. The Trump Administration has not provided specific details about the perceived new threat but official sources believe that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps could be using their links to Iraq’s Shiite Arab militias to destabilse the region which prompted the State Department to list the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.
Under the Barack Obama Administration, Germany was seen as Washington’s foremost partner in Europe. Over the course of the Donald J.Trump Administration, however, relations have been strained over issues regarding Germany’s military budget, which is well below the 2% of GDP NATO commitment, as well as the development of the Moscow-led Nord Stream II pipeline, which is perceived as increasing Europe’s energy dependency on Russia. Germany has also been objecting to the exclusion of the Chinese telecommunication behemoth Huawei from 5G network development contracts, which Washington says will trigger the end of intelligence sharing cooperation.
The office of the German foreign minister Heiko Maas issued a statement on Tuesday suggesting the two men had talked by phone and the two “agreed to quickly find a new date for a meeting.