Pompeo visits Berlin

US Secretary of State met German leaders in a visit coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Pompeo visits Berlin
dpa

Berlin (dpa) - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized Russia and China for authoritarianism on Friday, as he met German leaders in a visit coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Speaking at the Koerber Foundation, the top US diplomat conceded errors in the aftermath of the fall of the Wall, saying that troops had been withdrawn under the assumption that people were now free.

"We were wrong," Pompeo said.

"Today Russia, led by a former KGB officer stationed in Dresden, invades its neighbours and slays political opponents," he said.

Pompeo was also critical of China, mentioning how Beijing targets activists in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and also in exile in Germany and Europe.

China is shaping "a new vision of authoritarianism," Pompeo said.

The Communist Party "uses tactics and methods to suppress its own people that would be horribly familiar to former East Germans," he said.

Pompeo gave a speech at the foundation after meeting with Defence Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer, and underlined the need for a robust defence policy.

He is due to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel and will also meet Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and unveil a statue at the US embassy.

Diplomatic relations between the US and Germany have suffered under the presidency of Donald Trump, who has repeatedly chastised Berlin for its low defence spending and its role in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline bringing gas from Russia, as well as threatening the EU with punitive tariffs.

On Thursday, Pompeo and his German counterpart Heiko Maas visited the village of Moedlareuth, which was divided into two during the Cold War. They also visited the city of Halle, where a right-wing extremist gunman last month killed two people after a botched attack on a synagogue.

Pompeo plans to leave Germany just before the actual anniversary of the fall of the Wall on Saturday.