Washington The American State Department in Washington is a rather depressing building. Narrow white corridors, worn linoleum, low ceilings, little to no pictures on the walls – until you get to the so-called “Treaty Room”, where a completely different picture presents itself: high ceilings, turquoise-blue walls decorated with white columns, elegant Wooden floors.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) and her American counterpart Antony Blinken met here on Friday for a joint press conference – the current highlight of Baerbock’s multi-day US trip.
The evening before, Blinken and Baerbock had met for dinner at his residence for two hours – without an advisor. Only Blinken’s wife was there. Some time ago, Chancellor Scholz also met with US President Joe Biden alone and without an advisor.
Meetings of this type are intended to make it possible to talk about larger topics in a more informal atmosphere. On Friday morning, Baerbock met Blinken for a formal exchange at the American State Department. There were “very, very good consultations,” said Blinken following the conversation on Friday.
The focus of the conversation was the war in Ukraine. There are concerns in Berlin that US support for the country in fending off the ongoing Russian attack could weaken. Blinken assured that both sides were “deeply committed” to “continuing our strong support for Ukraine.” He emphasized that it was also about the longer time horizon.
The US Secretary of State explicitly praised Germany’s commitment to Ukraine. After the United States, Germany comes second in a country comparison in terms of aid provided to Ukraine, said Blinken.
Transatlantic solidarity before the UN General Assembly
The day before, Baerbock met with several politicians from the Republican Party, including Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican faction in the US Senate. The 81-year-old is considered one of the most important masterminds in US politics. Even if there are different points of view, many Republicans have made it clear that supporting Ukraine is important to them, Baerbock said on Thursday.
The transatlantic solidarity comes shortly before the UN General Assembly in New York, which begins at the beginning of next week, at which Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) will also give a speech to the delegates of the general assembly.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also expected at the important meeting. It is his second visit to the USA within a year.
Selensky also seems to fear that the support of the most important Western partner could crumble – and that is why he continues to travel through the USA after the UN General Assembly in New York: He wants support against the Russian one on Capitol Hill and in the White House in Washington promote aggression. In the UN general debate on Tuesday and Wednesday, Zelensky is also expected to demand that the West continue to stand by Ukraine.
It is possible, according to US media reports, that Biden could promise him the delivery of long-range missiles – a step that Zelenskiy had long been pushing for and that Biden had ruled out last year. At the joint press conference, however, US Secretary of State Blinken was cautious about this.
Uproar at press conference
There was also a small scandal on the sidelines of the press conference on Friday. Without prior notice, the participating journalists had to unexpectedly hand over their electronic devices – an extremely unusual process. Even at an earlier press conference by Foreign Minister Baerbock and her then Chinese counterpart Qin Gang in China, which is known for its strict press censorship, electronic devices were permitted. Until the very end, the German side had pushed for the devices to be approved, but according to reports, the American side blocked it.
China was also a topic in the joint talks between Blinken and Baerbock. Blinken praised the China strategy adopted by the federal government in July as “very consistent with our own.”
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In this context, both Baerbock and Blinken emphasized that they want to increase their efforts to secure the economy.
On Friday, a report from various US media caused a stir that disciplinary proceedings had apparently been initiated against Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu, who has been missing for more than two weeks. Former Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang has also been missing for several months. When asked, Blinken said he did not know anything about the status of the Chinese defense minister.
More: In an interview with the controversial TV channel Fox News, Baerbock calls for support for Ukraine