Maas’ suggestion for Germany’s future strategy toward the US was published in Wednesday’s edition of the daily Handelsblatt.
He explained that he envisioned Europe a “balanced share of responsibility” and acting as a counter to the US when it “crosses red lines”. He said that Europe should follow this approach when dealing with US sanctions, which came into force earlier this month.
But Merkel said that this article was not representative of Germany’s foreign policy and reflected Maas’ personal opinion only.
She did agree with him that relations with the United States were changing, but stressed that it was important for Germany to maintain a good working relationship with Washington, especially in the area of security.
Merkel has repeatedly said that she no longer regards the US as a full partner and believes that Europe should assume more responsibility, but that the door should be left open for the US to return to international agreements that it has left.
She added that it is also necessary to continue the close partnership with the US in international payment systems.
US sanctions and Iran nuclear deal
The US sanctions on Iran were imposed following Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, otherwise known as the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in May.
Trump pulled out of the deal, which provided sanctions relief on Iran in exchange for supposed restrictions on their nuclear programme, citing evidence from the Iranian Resistance that Iran was cheating on the deal and continuing its nuclear programme in secret.
Trump also raised concerns about Iran’s other malign activity in the region, including funding terrorism and supporting the Bashar Assad regime.
The three European signatories to the deal – the UK, France, and Germany – have remained committed to the deal and instituted new rules for their companies to follow to evade US sanctions. Nevertheless, many European companies have already pulled out of Iran to avoid US sanctions.
The first round of sanctions targeted Iran’s purchase of US dollars and its auto industry, but the second round, which is due in November, will target Iran’s oil industry and central bank.