Mr. Pompeo visited the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria, where the West Point graduate was stationed during his early-20s as a tank commander during the Cold War.
The now 55-year-old secretary of state served with the Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which is still based in the Bavaria garrison, and also spent time patrolling the Berlin Wall before it collapsed in 1989, according to a report by Stars and Stripes.
The garrison visit opened Mr. Pompeo’s two-day trip to Germany, where he is slated to give a speech Friday commemorating the fall of communist and Soviet rule over Eastern Europe near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
A senior State Department official said on background that the speech “will highlight the United States’ continuing commitment to defend the fundamental rights of freedom and human dignity.”
A State Department press release said the goal of Mr. Pompeo’s trip is to “highlight the vital role the United States played in helping the people of Eastern and Central Europe throw off the yoke of communism.”
“The U.S.-German relationship is in many ways the bedrock of the transatlantic relationship, and of course of the NATO alliance, built on shared values — freedom, democracy, human rights, rule of law,” said the senior State Department official, who briefed reporters earlier this week. “These are the kinds of things we’ll be celebrating as we engage and commemorate this 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and that’s at least the focus of this trip.”
The Associated Press reported that Mr. Pompeo, whose U.S. Army service in Germany was spent on the border with Czechoslovakia and East Germany in the 1980s, chatted with American troops attended a live-fire exercise Thursday, before heading to a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in the town of Moedlareuth.
During the Cold War, Moedlareuth was split down the middle by the border between East and West Germany, with the southern part in Bavaria and the northern part in Thuringia, a partition that gave rise to its nickname, “Little Berlin.”
Hundreds of thousands of Americans were stationed in West Germany during the Cold War, and the country was one of the U.S.’s closest allies. That relationship continued after the Nov. 9, 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism, but ties have become strained recently under the presidency of Donald Trump over a series of issues.
Mr. Pompeo is expected to discuss growing U.S. concerns about economic and strategic threats from Russia, China and Iran during talks Thursday and Friday with Mr. Maas and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Associated Press cited American officials as saying the secretary of state is expected to reiterate U.S. opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which had been staunchly supported by Germany and Russia.
The Nord Stream 2 project got a boost last week, when Danish regulators dropped environmental objections to a portion that would go through its waters. The plan to transport natural gas roughly 750 miles through the Baltic Sea from Russia to Europe has come under fire from the Trump administration and several European countries, who argue it will increase Europe’s dependence on Russia for energy.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.
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