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German Minister Warns U.S. That Putting 'America First' Will Spur Response In Kind

Steel pipes for the North Stream 2 pipeline are uploaded in Mukran harbour in Sassnitz, Germany.

Germany's economy minister has issued a warning to the United States about the risks of putting "America First," saying it will prompt European allies to respond in kind and put their own interests first.

"The U.S. are our friends and partners, and we want to defend our common values," Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in in an interview with ARD television in Berlin on May 18, but he said Germany will go ahead with its joint Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline deal with Russia despite strong opposition from the United States.

"If it's America first, and they put their economic interest before others, then they have to expect Europe to define their own interests and fight for them," said Altmeier, who, along with his close ally German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the pipeline deal as essential for Germany's economy.

Altmeier accused Washington of seeking to block the planned gas pipeline from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea so that U.S. companies can sell more liquefied natural gas to European markets.

The United States on May 17 threatened to use sanctions to try to block the pipeline deal, while President Donald Trump has called for increased U.S. liquefied gas shipments to Europe, saying it would help Europeans curb their reliance on Russian gas.

"They have a large LNG terminal infrastructure to get value out of," Atlmeier said. "They are looking for markets, which we can understand, and they can land it here easily."

"But it is much more expensive than pipeline gas, so blocking Nord Stream 2 on its own won't guarantee exports" to Europe, he told ARD.

Based on reporting by ARD television and Reuters