November 10, 2017 / 4:02 PM / 2 years ago

German parties back NATO, want good ties with Russia: document

BERLIN (Reuters) - German parties exploring a coalition government have underscored their commitment to the NATO alliance and transatlantic ties, but also said they wanted good relations with Russia, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

The three-page paper, to be considered by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens later on Friday, mapped out broad agreement on a pragmatic approach to foreign policy, multilateralism and a strong commitment to global trade.

“We want to strengthen the diplomatic resources of Germany, putting a priority on civilian crisis prevention, active crisis management and long-term stabilization,” the paper said.

It said the parties were committed to ridding the world of nuclear weapons and would launch a new diplomatic drive for nuclear disarmament, pushing for a more European approach on many issues.

It gave a nod to the Greens by saying the parties agreed to take a “restrictive” approach to weapons exports, and would push for a joint European arms export policy.

The paper also underscored the importance of global trade and called for efforts to strengthen the central role of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

It said the prospective coalition government would maintain close ties to the U.S. administration, but would also seek to expand ties with U.S. state governments and cities. Many of those entities have said they will defy a decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

Chairman of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) Christian Lindner, leader of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) Angela Merkel, leader of the German Green Party Katrin Goering-Eckardt and Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery Peter Altmaier are seen on a balcony of German Parliamentary Society offices during the exploratory talks about forming a new coalition government held by CDU/CSU in Berlin, Germany, October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

The paper also contained several bracketed sentences that had not yet been agreed, including a proposal by the Greens to withdraw the NATO nuclear weapons that remain on German soil, and to ban all weapons sales to countries involved in the war in Yemen.

The parties also remain at odds over the use of armed drones and over foreign military missions, the draft document showed.

Also missing from the draft is any mention of the NATO target of moving toward spending 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defense by 2024. Officials close to the talks say the target should not be included in the coalition agreement since the target date is well beyond the four-year scope of the deal.

Reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann; Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Michael Nienaber and Kevin Liffey

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