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Merkel warns US against withdrawing from Syria, Afghanistan

Merkel warns US against withdrawing from Syria, Afghanistan

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Feb 16, 2019 - 18:24

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned a hasty US pullout from Syria runs the risk of strengthening Russia and Iran roles in the Middle East.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on February 16, Merkel questioned whether the planned US withdrawal was "a good idea." "Will it once more strengthen the capacity of Iran and Russia to exert their influence?" she asked.

She also cautioned against a premature US withdrawal of forces from Afghanistaninfo-icon, saying that NATOinfo-icon's Resolute Support mission in that country was dependent on the US military's commitment.

The German leader called on Beijing to join the international disarmament process.

Earlier this month, the United States announced it was withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty after claiming that Russia was violating it. But Washington is also concerned the treaty restricts US weaponry in Asia, but does not limit those of China.

Merkel noted the INF Treaty was negotiated "essentially for Europe" and that without it, Europe would have to push for future disarmament agreements to ensure its own security.

"Disarmament is something that concerns us all and where we would, of course, be glad if such talks were held not just between the United States, Europe, and Russia, but also with China," she said.

Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi told the Munich Conference shortly after Merkel's speech that the INF Treaty should be saved, but that China would not sign it.

"China develops its capabilities strictly in accordance to its defensive needs and doesn't pose a threat to anybody else," Yang said. "So we are opposed to the multilateralization of the INF."

mds

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