Blinken in Germany for talks with Maas and Merkel

World Wednesday 23/June/2021 16:35 PM
By: DW
Blinken in Germany for talks with Maas and Merkel

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Germany on Wednesday and is scheduled to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

The visit is his second to Europe in just seven days, having accompanied President Joe Biden to leaders' meetings in the United Kingdom and Belgium.

Reviving the Iran nuclear deal

In a joint press conference, Maas said that he saw a "good chance" of concluding talks on a revival of the Iran nuclear deal — after talks with Blinken.

"Regarding the negotiations in Vienna, they aren't easy — that's been clear in recent weeks," Maas told reporters.

"Nevertheless we are moving forward step by step in every round of negotiations and we assume that in the context of the [Iranian] presidential election, there's a good chance to conclude them in the foreseeable future," he added.

Maas said there were still "several technical questions to resolve" on the 2015 deal.

"In any case we are convinced that it's worth it to maintain talks over such a long period of time in order to revive the JCPOA in this way," he added, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran deal.

Setting red lines for Russia

During the press conference, Blinken said the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project undermines the security of Ukraine.

"Our goal remains to ensure that Russia cannot use energy as a coercive tool as a weapon against Ukraine, or anyone else in Europe," Blinken said.

"Germany and the United States will keep standing together against any dangerous or provocative actions by Russia, whether that's encroaching on Ukraine's territory or imprisoning Alexei Navalny or spreading disinformation in our democracies," Blinken added, referring to the jailed Russian opposition leader.

The US recently waived sanctions against the operating company after appeals from Germany, and initial plans for a tough stance from Biden.

The Biden administration justified the decision by saying that the project was too far along to stop. It said it would instead seek a path to collaborate with Germany on establishing red lines for Russia.

The Nordstream 2 pipeline, now about 95% complete, would double Russian gas exports across the Baltic Sea.

Conflict in Libya

Germany and the United Nations are later hosting a conference on the Libyan conflict in Berlin. Blinken, as well as foreign ministers from Russia, Egypt, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are participating in the German-led mediation push.

The one-day conference will focus on maintaining a Libya ceasefire, bringing stability to the war-ravaged country and ending foreign interference in the conflict.

"We have an opportunity that we have not had in recent years to really help Libya move forward as a safe, secure, sovereign country," Blinken said in Berlin alongside Maas.

Maas said Germany wants "Libya to find lasting peace and stabilization."

"We want to set the right course for this and secure international support," he added.

Fighting antisemitism

Blinken is set to discuss with German leaders how to counter antisemitism.

On Thursday, Maas and Blinken plan to sign an agreement at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. It will lay out plans for cooperation between the two countries on reinforcing Holocaust remembrance.

Sanctions against Belarus

Blinken is also likely to discuss the coordinated sanctions imposed on Belarus by the US, the European Union, the UK and Canada earlier this week.

The sanctions were the latest response to the forced diversion of an international flight to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to detain opposition activist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend, who were onboard the commercial Ryanair flight.

The EU and the US have targeted dozens of individuals and entities over a crackdown on opposition after strongman Alexander Lukashenko claimed a landslide reelection for a sixth term last August.

Also on Wednesday, Germany's Economics Minister Peter Altmaier plans to travel to Washington.

Merkel plans to travel to Washington, almost certainly for the last time as chancellor, on July 15.