BERLIN: with an eye toward "revitalizing" America's relationships, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has arrived in Berlin on Tuesday. He will meet his German counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, with the aim of settling defence ties after a tumultuous four years under the previous American administration.
The secretary begins his trip in Israel, moves on to Germany, and then goes to Brussels for meetings with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. He'll wrap up his travels in the United Kingdom.
In Israel, Austin will meet with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The secretary is the most senior Biden administration official to visit the country. He is visiting the week Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day, followed by Israeli Independence Day.
Former US President Donald Trump repeatedly criticized Germany for not spending enough on defence, and late in his term announced the withdrawal of thousands of American troops from the country, DPA news agency reported.
President Joe Biden's policies have changed little from Trump's, however, with the US still demanding that NATO countries spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence.
Germany in 2020 spent 1.56 per cent on defence, but has promised to increase it.
A key sticking point likely to arise in Tuesday's discussions is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a mega-project that also has security implications.