Both are new in office. Sigmar Gabriel is the first counterpart to be received by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Foreign Minister Gabriel travelled for a two-day visit to the US (2 and 3 February). In Washington, he visited the Library of Congress and held talks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence. On Friday (3 February), he travelled on to New York, where a meeting with representatives of Jewish organisations and a visit to the United Nations was on the agenda.
First meeting between new colleagues
Both ministers are new in office. Sigmar Gabriel has been German Foreign Minister for just under a week and his US counterpart Rex Tillerson took office on Wednesday. Gabriel is the first counterpart to be received by Tillerson.
The fact that Gabriel travelled so soon to the US is a sign of close transatlantic relations. The traditionally close relations between Germany and the US are based on shared values and historical experience. In addition, both countries have close ties via NATO. Gabriel underlined that no other region outside Europe was as close to Germany as the US. By travelling to the US at this early stage, Germany wanted to show that transatlantic cooperation should continue to play a major role.
“We are closely united by shared values,” Gabriel said, “but these values must be upheld.”
US and Germany: shared values
After arriving in Washington, Foreign Minister Gabriel met members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in the US Capitol, the seat of the US Congress.
After the meeting, the delegation visited the Library of Congress. With over 155 million media, including 31 million books in 470 languages, this is the second-largest library in the world. Because of the strong German influence on US history – many of the first immigrants came from Germany – a large number of documents are available in German, including the US Declaration of Independence.
Gabriel said that the Declaration of Independence had established values – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, certain inalienable rights of all people – that also played an important role today.
Meeting with Tillerson: a good foundation for further talks
In the afternoon, Gabriel visited the White House, where he met Vice President Mike Pence.
He then held talks at the US Department of State with his counterpart Rex Tillerson, who had been sworn in only the previous evening. “It was good to visit the US at this early stage,” Gabriel said. In his meeting with Rex Tillerson, it had become clear that the new US Administration was interested in expanding transatlantic relations. “We laid a good foundation for further talks,” Gabriel concluded.
Visit to New York
The delegation travelled on to New York early on Friday morning. A meeting with representatives of Jewish organisations at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations was the first item on the agenda. Afterwards, Gabriel visited the United Nations, where he met the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations and António Guterres, who took over from Ban Ki-moon as Secretary-General of the United Nations at the start of the year.