05:58 GMT +320 November 2019
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    US President Donald Trump bids farewell before he and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One to depart for Israel from King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 22, 2017.

    German FM Slams Donald Trump Over Middle East 'Arms Race' Policy

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    German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has launched a withering attack on US President Donald Trump for stirring up unrest in the Middle East by stoking an "arms race" and causing the isolation of Qatar that has led to diplomatic tensions in the region.

    Trump's recent first trip to Europe and the Middle East resulted in him signing a huge arms deal with Saudi Arabia — worth US$110 billion — involving border security and counterterrorism, maritime and coastal security, air force modernization, air and missile defense, and cybersecurity and communications upgrades, according to the White House.

    "US President Trump's recent giant military contracts with Gulf monarchies raise the risk of a new spiral in arms sales," Gabriel said.

    He also criticized Trump for encouraging Saudi Arabia to isolate Qatar, which has had diplomatic links with the Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, all of which have closed their airspace to Qatari flights. 

    Relations between Berlin and Washington have been bumpy since Trump became president.

    In late May, Trump tweeted that the US was running a huge trade deficit with Germany, having previously complained that too many German cars were bought on the US.

    ​In January, Trump told a German newspaper that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made a "catastrophic mistake" in her 'open doors' policy towards refugees.

    "I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know, taking all of the people from wherever they come from. And nobody even knows where they come from. So I think she made a catastrophic mistake, very bad mistake," Trump told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag. 

    He also hit out an NATO countries that failed to meet the target of two percent of GDP spending on defense — a key NATO target. Germany is well below the two percent level, according to the latest NATO figures, spending only 1.2 percent of GDP.

    "We strongly support NATO; we only ask that all of the NATO members make their full and proper contributions to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing — many of them have not been even close," Trump said.

    Gabriel's comments on Qatar and the Saudi arms deal are likely to further add to tensions between Washington and Berlin.

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    Tags:
    diplomatic conflict, airspace closure, arms deal, Trump administration, NATO, Angela Merkel, Sigmar Gabriel, Donald Trump, Germany, United States, Middle East, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia
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