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Scholz wants US, Germany to send tanks together: US congressman

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has told US congressmen in Davos that Germany will supply heavy tanks to Ukraine if the United States sends tanks too, a senior US lawmaker told AFP on Thursday.

Scholz is under rising pressure from his European allies to authorise the export of the German-made Leopard tank, ahead of a meeting of Ukraine’s allies on Friday to discuss new arms supplies.

After meeting Scholz on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, US Congressman Gregory Meeks, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the German leader wanted the two countries to work in tandem.

“It’s basically that it’s got to be the United States and Germany. There’s no question about that,” Meeks told AFP when asked about Scholz’s position on heavy tanks.

“It was clear to me that the United States and Germany were having dialogue and conversations and that they were going to lock and stay together.”

“There are going to more conversations with President Biden,” he added.

A senior Pentagon official said on Wednesday that the United States was not currently prepared to provide advanced Abrams tanks to Ukraine, citing difficulties in maintenance and training.

When asked on Wednesday about supplying Leopards, Scholz replied: “We are never doing something just by ourselves but together with others, especially the United States.”

Germany and the United States said last week they would respectively provide Bradley and Marder armoured fighting vehicles, and France has also promised to provide its highly mobile AMX-10 RCs.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticised hesitations among Ukraine’s allies on Thursday when he addressed a meeting in Davos by videolink.

Meeks said he was in favour of sending Leopards and Abrams to Ukraine.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin “has got to be stopped and it should be sooner rather than later,” he said.

“And if that means that you need to give them Leopard tanks and more, then so be it.”