Pompeo warns against Chinese, Russian clout on eve of Berlin Wall anniversary
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Pompeo warns against Chinese, Russian clout on eve of Berlin Wall anniversary

‘We are in a competition of values with unfree nations,’ US secretary of state says in Germany, cites Western ‘responsibility to deter threats’ from such governments

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at an event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Koerber Foundation in Berlin, Germany November 8, 2019. (Hannibal Hanschke/POOL/AFP)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at an event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Koerber Foundation in Berlin, Germany November 8, 2019. (Hannibal Hanschke/POOL/AFP)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday issued a stark warning against China and Russia on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“Western, free nations have a responsibility to deter threats to our people” from governments like China, Russia and Iran, Pompeo said, speaking just a few meters away from where the Wall ran past the German capital’s world-famous Brandenburg Gate.

The US and its allies should “defend what was so hard-won… in 1989” and “recognize we are in a competition of values with unfree nations,” he added.

Picking at sore spots in Washington’s relationship with Berlin, Pompeo said the under-construction Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany would mean “Europe’s energy supplies… depend on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s whims.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech in Munich, Germany, May 24, 2019. (Christof Stache/AFP)

Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly said the pipeline is a purely private business concern.

And he warned of “Chinese companies’ intent to build 5G networks,” after the German government failed to exclude tech giant Huawei from the bidding process for the next-generation mobile network infrastructure.

Pompeo is on a whirlwind two-day tour of Germany where he has revisited the site of his Cold War military service on the former Iron Curtain border and is slated to meet leaders including Merkel.

While in Europe, he has looked to shore up transatlantic relations eroded by trade conflicts and discord over geopolitical crises and military spending.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping ahead of a bilateral meeting at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on May 14, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Wu Hong)

Spurred by the US leaving the way open to Turkish and Russian military action in northern Syria, France’s President Emmanuel Macron told The Economist this week that the NATO alliance — of which Ankara is also a member — was suffering a “brain death” of lack of coordination between Europe and Washington.

Recalling past “challenges between partners” within NATO, including France’s 1960s departure from the alliance’s command structure, Pompeo on Friday dismissed the debate around Macron’s comments as a “kerfuffle.”

Other leaders including Merkel, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have also firmly rejected Macron’s assessment.

Nevertheless, Pompeo acknowledged that “NATO needs to grow and change, it needs to confront the realities of today and the challenges today.

“We can never take these things for granted, we can never assume that because there’s this infrastructure… that it will exist and of its own force, just by the nature of it continue to work and be effective.”

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