AP NEWS

The Latest: Germany criticizes Trump’s go-it-alone approach

February 15, 2019
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German foreign minister Heiko Maas, right, talks to Russian foreign minister Sergej Lawrow at a bilateral meeting at the Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

MUNICH (AP) — The Latest on Munich Security Conference (all times local):

6:50 p.m.

Germany’s foreign minister is calling for a return to multilateral solutions, criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump’s go-it-alone approach as counter-productive.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Munich Security Conference delegates on Friday that, with the increasing power of China, Europe and the United States should be working with each other. He says Trump’s steel tariffs cost jobs in the U.S., increased steel prices and are threatening jobs in Europe.

He says “for me, it’s a classic case of lose-lose.”

Maas also criticized the U.S.’s unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran. He said Germany, France and Britain are trying to preserve the deal because if it collapses, it will bring the region “a step closer to open confrontation.”

He urged a return to cooperation, saying Germany has “no interest in a division of the west.”

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6:30 p.m.

Germany’s finance minister is calling on China to be more transparent about its lending to developing countries amid worries about debt.

Minister Olaf Scholz said Friday at the Munich Security Conference that officials have urged China “to have a better understanding that possibly the next big crisis in the world may come from too much debt coming from China to many of the development countries.”

He called on China to join the Paris Club of creditor countries that aims to find coordinated solutions to problems faced by debtors, and said greater transparency is also in China’s interest.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said she agrees with “Olaf’s invitation that all respectable, sensible, reasonable lenders belong to the Paris Club.” She said “it would also clear the air a lot” about allegations of obscure and non-disclosable terms and conditions with the Chinese loans.

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6 p.m.

The head of NATO says there’s growing concern about China’s increasing investment in critical infrastructure systems in countries around the world and that alliance nations need to address it together.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a meeting of world leaders, top diplomats and defense officials on Friday that China’s interest in the lucrative contracts to provide new superfast mobile networks called 5G is a cause for concern for many allies.

He says “we have to better understand the size and scale of China’s influence, what it means for our security, and we have to address it together.”

He spoke at the Munich Security Conference.

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12:20 p.m.

A London-based think tank says last year’s election in the German state of Bavaria was the subject of concerted social media campaigns designed to benefit a far-right party.

In a report Friday at the Munich Security Conference, researchers said they identified online tactics used by overlapping networks of German and international far-right activists to promote the Alternative for Germany party and smear its opponents.

The party, known by its acronym AfD, received 10.2 percent of the vote in the October election, sapping support from the governing Christian Social Union.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s report found the election meddling wasn’t driven by foreign countries, but rather by non-state networks of international far-right activists “using English language instruction manuals, meme banks and targeted trolling hit-lists.”

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11 a.m.

Iran’s foreign minister says that even if Tehran decided to negotiate with the United States, he wouldn’t trust that President Donald Trump would honor any deal the two nations made.

Mohammad Javad Zarif’s comments in an interview to NBC’s “Today” broadcast Friday came before an annual security conference in Munich that brings together more than 30 heads of state and government and 80 defense and foreign ministers.

Zarif said Iran spent years negotiating a nuclear agreement with the U.S. and other world powers, which exchanged sanctions relief for Tehran’s pledge to rein in its nuclear program.

Trump pulled out of the deal and the U.S. re-imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran.

Zarif said Iran isn’t interested in sitting down with Trump, saying: “Why should we negotiate? ... Why should we trust President Trump that he would abide by his own signature?”