April 10, 2020 / 11:17 AM / 4 months ago

German minister criticises U.S. coronavirus response as too slow: Spiegel

FILE PHOTO: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas attends an event on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, February 24, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has criticised the United States’ handling of the coronavirus outbreak as too slow, the latest sign of tensions between the two allies as they respond to the crisis.

China took “very authoritarian measures, while in the U.S., the virus was played down for a long time,” Maas said in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine in a preview sent to the media on Friday.

“These are two extremes, neither of which can be a model for Europe,” he said.

Germany was among countries that last week accused the United States of “Wild West” tactics in outbidding or blocking shipments to buyers who had already signed deals for vital medical supplies. [nL8N2BR5O2]

Maas told Der Spiegel that he hoped the United States would rethink its international relationships in light of the coronavirus crisis.

“Let’s see to what extent the actions of the American government will lead to discussions in the U.S. about whether the ‘America First’ model really works,” he said, adding that aggressive trade policies may have hurt the country’s ability to procure protective equipment.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Berlin was not immediately able to respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by David Goodman

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