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Austin asks for 'continued dialogue' on troop drawdown in Germany

Retired General Lloyd Austin testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his conformation hearing to be the next Secretary of Defense in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19. Austin spoke with Germany's defense minister this week. Pool Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI
Retired General Lloyd Austin testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his conformation hearing to be the next Secretary of Defense in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19. Austin spoke with Germany's defense minister this week. Pool Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed a desire for "a continued dialogue" on the presence of U.S. troops in Germany during a call with the German defense minister this week.

The Pentagon's readout of Austin's call with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer contained few details, but said Austin and Kramp-Karrenbauer talked about "areas for stronger U.S.-Germany cooperation" on global challenges like COVID-19, force posture in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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The readout also said Austin "expressed his gratitude to Germany for continuing to serve as a great host for U.S. forces" and expressed a desire "for a continued dialogue on U.S. force posture in Germany."

A tweet from German's Ministry of Defence confirmed the call took place and said the stationing is an important point for safety.

In July, then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that the United States would withdraw 12,000 troops from Germany.

Then-President Donald Trump alleged that Germany had been delinquent in paying NATO fees and by committing less than two percent of its gross domestic product to defense.

The announcement drew criticism from Democrats and Republicans, and ultimately December's defense bill did not include any mention of troop reductions in the country.

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