00:59 GMT17 January 2021
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    The statement by the German Chancellor comes amid a standoff between Moscow and Washington, in the wake of the US announcing their suspension of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

    "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", Angela Merkel stated at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

    Commenting on the matter, German Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier noted earlier that the termination of the agreement might lead to a new arms race.

    READ MORE: NATO to Respond if Russia Doesn't Fulfill Duties Under INF Treaty — Stoltenberg

    Earlier in February, Washington said it was suspending its obligations under the INF Treaty, with Russia responding in kind. The US said it would leave in six months unless Russia returned to compliance with the agreement, while Moscow has refuted all allegations of breaching the accord. The US, in the meantime, has repeatedly stressed that it would want a new accord that would include China and other countries with medium-range ballistic missiles.

    NATO as "Anchor of Stability"

    The head of the German government underlined the importance of NATO, stressing that it is not only a military alliance, but a "community of shared values", such as human rights and democracy.

    "We talked at the time [whether] we still need NATO today. Oh yes, we do need NATO as an anchor of stability on the stormy sea", Merkel said.

    READ MORE: NATO Chief Rules Out Moving New Nuclear Arms to Europe

    Last November, French President Emmanuel Macron called for the establishment of a European army that would "protect" the union from China, Russia and even the United States.

    Merkel swiftly welcomed the idea, adding that "the times when we could rely on others are over". However, she stressed that a future EU army would complement NATO and in no way call into question European ties with the alliance.

    Conflict in Syria

    When talking about the situation in the Middle East, Merkel also claimed that the US troop withdrawal from Syria creates a risk of Moscow and Tehran ramping up their influence in the region.

    "Is it a good thing to immediately withdraw troops from Syria now, American troops, or will it strengthen Iran’s capacity and Russia’s capacity to influence the situation on the ground? That too is something we have to discuss and is very much something we need to discuss", she said at the conference.

    READ MORE: US Top General Takes to CNN to Dispute Syria Withdrawal

    In December, US President Donald Trump declared victory over Daesh* and said he would withdraw some 2,000 US troops currently deployed in Syria. The White House, however, noted later that it would not disclose a timeline for withdrawing the country’s troops, stressing that the US-led international coalition's fight against terrorism would continue.

    Gas Transit in Europe

    The German Chancellor also addressed the issue of the gas transit, noting that the EU should not stop the trade with Moscow because of some political reasons, but also stressing that Ukraine should remain Russian gas transit country.

    Merkel's statement comes a few days after the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament reached an agreement on amendments to the EU gas directive, dealing with sea sections of gas pipelines and, therefore, Russia's Nord Stream 2 project.

    The Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture between the Russian company Gazprom, Engie of France, OMV of Austria, the Anglo-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell, and the Germany companies Uniper and Wintershall. It aims to deliver 55 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas per year to the European Union via the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine.


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