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German Foreign Minister Says Russia, West Should Avoid 'New Ice Age'


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (right) meets with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel at the State Department in Washington on August 29.

Germany's foreign minister says that Washington and its European partners should ensure that new U.S. sanctions targeting Russia do not lead to a "new ice age" between Moscow and the West.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel's comments followed his August 29 meeting in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

He noted European concerns about the potential side effects of a tough new law passed recently by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Donald Trump.

The law cements sanctions against Moscow over its aggression in Ukraine and for allegedly meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

"There should be no new ice age between Russia and the West," Gabriel said, according to a statement released by the German Foreign Ministry.

Under Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, the United States, and the European Union largely coordinated their sanctions targeting Moscow over its 2014 seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and backing of armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Juncker Warning

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned after Trump signed the bill that European energy companies could be harmed, particularly those working on Russian natural gas pipeline systems that transit Ukraine to reach EU member states.

Gabriel echoed those concerns following his meeting with Tillerson, saying: "We do not want to completely destroy our business relations with Russia."

Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy for efforts to end the conflict in Ukraine, told German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle in an interview published on August 29 that Washington would not go "over the heads of the Ukrainians or behind the backs of the Europeans" to secure any deal with Russia.

"The U.S. has made clear we fully support the Normandy process, and it's not our intention to become a part of it or to try to go over the top of it," Volker said, referring to a four-way process on a peace deal for eastern Ukraine involving Germany, France, Moscow, and Kyiv.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on August 28 called for Russia and Ukraine to step up their efforts to implement the 2015 Minsk agreement meant to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, and Deutsche Welle
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