Berlin says no decision on US troop withdrawal

4th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

4 June 2004 , BERLIN - No decision has been taken yet on US troop withdrawals from Germany, a Defence Ministry spokesman in Berlin said Friday, hours after a New York Times report that two entire US Army divisions would go. Those divisions were believed to be the 1st Armoured Division and the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized). There has been speculation for over a year that they would not return to Germany after their current deployment in Iraq. The spokesman said discussions with the Americans were conti

4 June 2004

BERLIN - No decision has been taken yet on US troop withdrawals from Germany, a Defence Ministry spokesman in Berlin said Friday, hours after a New York Times report that two entire US Army divisions would go.

Those divisions were believed to be the 1st Armoured Division and the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized). There has been speculation for over a year that they would not return to Germany after their current deployment in Iraq.

The spokesman said discussions with the Americans were continuing, and declined to comment on the newspaper report, other than saying it referred to "plans that have not been settled on the political side".

The New York Times said the Pentagon was contemplating taking the two divisions out of Germany, replacing them with a brigade equipped with Stryker light armoured vehicles, and removing the US Air Force F-16 fighters at Spangdahlem base in Germany.

It said Douglas Feith, the under secretary of defence for policy, had consulted with Germany on the Pentagon plan, saying it had yet to be formally approved by US President George W. Bush and that the Americans would listen to German concerns.

Many smaller communities in the southern half of Germany count on the US forces as customers and tenants, and fear economic ruin if the Americans leave.

The Berlin spokesman pointed out the region was particularly sensitive because the German armed forces are also planning to announce at the end of this year which German bases will be scrapped.

Diplomats have also worried that Berlin would be affronted by a withdrawal after nearly 60 years of American soldiers in Germany.

German Foreign Office spokesman Walter Lindner said final decisions had not been taken yet, with talks only in the last few days on the latest position. "The whole thing is a discussion process within the Bush Administration," he said.

Lindner said the time frame given by the New York Times - that a decision would be taken within two months - was speculation.

Both countries are reshaping their forces to reflect the end of the Cold War threat to Europe. The United States wants to move forces closer to the Middle East, while Germany is recasting its forces into more mobile units designed for operations far from home.

DPA

Subject: German news 

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