BERLIN, May 20 (UPI) -- For Germany, Russia may be a partner but the United States is "family" Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer claimed Friday.
"Russia is our partner, the U.S. is our friend and most important ally outside of Europe. One is a partnership; the other is family," Fischer told the Rheinische Post newspaper.
"Transatlantic alliances are indispensable not only for Germany but for Europe. We have a strategic interest with Russia that the country becomes a stable European factor, that in establishing an independent constitutional state and civil society it thoroughly modernizes and democratizes."
Fischer was trying to ease American concerns that Germans are no longer reliable allies, after their refusal to back the Bush administration on the Iraq war. Recent attacks by German politicians calling U.S. investors and hedge funds "locusts" have also strained relations, as have the latest round of U.S. troop withdrawals from German towns that once housed garrisons of more than 300,000 U.S. servicemen. Fewer than 30,000 will remain after next year.