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Germany's New Foreign Minister Says Core Values Remain Europe, Transatlantic Partnership

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel

Germany's new foreign minister has said that Europe, the transatlantic partnership with the United States, and multilateralism will remain the core values of German foreign policy.

In a speech to diplomats in Berlin on January 27 after taking over the office from Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also said populist movements were exploiting people's fears with promises of new nationalist priorities.

He said it would be "huge mistake" to move policy in that direction.

Gabriel also said that Germany should react with self-confidence to the political changes taking place in the United States under President Donald Trump.

He said he was looking forward to meeting the designated U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as soon as possible.

Tillerson's nomination is expected to be approved by U.S. lawmakers next week.

Gabriel is due to travel to Paris on January 28 to meet with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and discuss the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Gabriel's remarks in Berlin came a day after U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis telephoned his German and French counterparts to assure them that the United States has an "enduring commitment" to NATO.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and the French defense minister were the third and fourth European allies that Mattis has called to reassure since taking office last week.

Longtime allies have been shaken by Trump's criticism of NATO as "obsolete" and suggestions that the U.S. might refuse to defend allies who do not spend enough on defense.

Trump has criticized NATO members that fall short of spending the 2 percent of GDP goal set by the alliance -- prompting Germany, Romania, and others to consider boosting their defense spending.

The Pentagon said Mattis on January 26 thanked von der Leyen for Germany's leadership in NATO activities in the Baltics and in Afghanistan and acknowledged the role that Germany plays in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq.

With reporting by Reuters and dpa
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