June 10, 2020 / 11:31 PM / a month ago

Outgoing U.S. ambassador to Germany defends troop withdrawal plan

FILE PHOTO: Richard Grenell U.S. Ambassador to Germany attends the "Rally for Equal Rights at the United Nations (Protesting Anti-Israeli Bias)" aside of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - The United States is planning to withdraw troops from Germany because Americans are against “paying too much” for other countries’ security, the outgoing U.S. ambassador said late on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump has ordered the U.S. military to remove 9,500 troops from Germany, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

The move would reduce the U.S. contingent to 25,000.

Richard Grenell, who resigned as U.S. ambassador to Germany on June 1, told Bild Live late on Wednesday: “American taxpayers no longer feel like paying too much for the defence of other countries.”

“There will still be 25,000 soldiers in Germany, that’s no small number,” he added, according to a German translation of his remarks.

The troop move is the latest twist in relations between Berlin and Washington that have often been strained during Trump’s presidency. Trump has pressed Germany to raise defence spending and accused Berlin of being a “captive” of Russia due to its partial reliance on Russian energy.

Trump’s decision to cut U.S. troop levels in Germany blindsided a number of senior national security officials, according to five sources familiar with the matter, and the Pentagon had yet to receive a formal order to carry it out, Reuters has learned.

Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Tom Brown

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