Trump directs U.S. troops reduction in Germany: media

U.S. President Donald Trump directed the Pentagon to reduce U.S. military presence in Germany by September, U.S. media reported on Friday.

Citing U.S. government officials, The Wall Street Journal said in a Friday piece that the move would reduce 9,500 troops from the 34,500 troops that are permanently assigned in Germany.

The move also limits the size of U.S. troops deployed in Germany at any one time at the 25,000-troop level. According to the report, overall troop levels under current practice can rise to as high as 52,000 as units rotate in and out or take part in training exercises.

The report came days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said due to the coronavirus pandemic, she will not attend the Group of Seven (G7) Summit that initially scheduled at the White House in late June.

A person familiar with the matter was quoted as saying that the troops’ reduction plan had been discussed within the administration for months and was not linked to Merkel’s decision on G7 Summit.

The reduction plan might further strain the relations between Washington and Berlin. The two allies have been at odds with each other on Iran nuclear issues, Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, and defense burden-sharing, among others.