German official: US Congress will not allow Trump to pull out of NATO

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BERLIN, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel "read with interest" U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's interview with the Bild newspaper in which he called NATO "obsolete," her spokesman said, adding Berlin still aimed for close cooperation with Washington.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert declined to comment on specific remarks in the interview, saying many of Trump's positions were known.

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"We will wait for the inauguration of President Trump and then will work closely with the new administration," Seibert told a regular government news conference.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said it was difficult to get a clear view of Trump's policies given contradictions in his statements in interviews and on Twitter.

"We will see what policy really is after the inauguration on Friday," he told reporters.

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US Vice President-elect Mike Pence speaks during a press conference January 11, 2017 in New York. Donald Trump is holding his first news conference in nearly six months Wednesday, amid explosive allegations over his ties to Russia, a little more than a week before his inauguration. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes questions from members of the media during a press conference at Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. Trump vigorously denounced unsubstantiated reports that the Russian government has gathered potentially damaging information about his finances and conduct. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 11: President-elect Donald Trump arrives at a news cenference at Trump Tower on January 11, 2017 in New York City. This is Trump's first official news conference since the November elections. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump arrives to give a press conference January 11, 2017 in New York. Donald Trump is holding his first news conference in nearly six months Wednesday, amid explosive allegations over his ties to Russia, a little more than a week before his inauguration. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, second right, stands with son Donald Trump Jr. right, and daughter Ivanka Trump prior to a press conference at Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. Trump vigorously denounced unsubstantiated reports that the Russian government has gathered potentially damaging information about his finances and conduct. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Numerous files are displayed (L) as US President-elect Donald Trump gives a press conference January 11, 2017 in New York. Donald Trump is holding his first news conference in nearly six months Wednesday, amid explosive allegations over his ties to Russia, a little more than a week before his inauguration. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump gives a press conference January 11, 2017 in New York. Donald Trump is holding his first news conference in nearly six months Wednesday, amid explosive allegations over his ties to Russia, a little more than a week before his inauguration. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump gives a press conference January 11, 2017 in New York. Donald Trump is holding his first news conference in nearly six months Wednesday, amid explosive allegations over his ties to Russia, a little more than a week before his inauguration. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
People watch from a balcony as US President-elect Donald Trump gives a press conference January 11, 2017 in New York. Donald Trump is holding his first news conference in nearly six months Wednesday, amid explosive allegations over his ties to Russia, a little more than a week before his inauguration. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., January 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
US President-elect Donald Trump Chief Strategist Steve Bannon is seen during a press conference January 11, 2017 in New York. Donald Trump is holding his first news conference in nearly six months Wednesday, amid explosive allegations over his ties to Russia, a little more than a week before his inauguration. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump along with his children Eric(L) Ivanka and Donald Jr. arrive for a press conference January 11, 2017 at Trump Tower in New York. Trump held his first news conference in nearly six months Wednesday, amid explosive allegations over his ties to Russia, a little more than a week before his inauguration. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a press conference January 11, 2017 at Trump Tower in New York. Trump held his first news conference in nearly six months Wednesday, amid explosive allegations over his ties to Russia, a little more than a week before his inauguration. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 11: President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a news cenference at Trump Tower on January 11, 2017 in New York City. This is Trump's first official news conference since the November elections. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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Trump told The Times of London and Germany's Bild newspaper in an interview that he viewed NATO as obsolete because it had not defended against terror attacks, but said the military alliance was still very important to him.

His comments appeared to contradict views expressed by his nominees for secretary of state and defense secretary during confirmation hearings last week, Germany's transatlantic coordinator, Juergen Hardt, told Reuters.

Hardt said he did not expect the U.S. Congress to allow Washington to give up its key role in NATO.

He said key U.S. lawmakers, including Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, had told him several weeks ago they expected Washington to remain a reliable partner in the 28-nation bloc, and he did not expect Trump to reverse the deployment of 4,000 U.S. troops to Poland.

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U.S. army soldiers attend an official welcoming ceremony for U.S. troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Polish army soldier looks on after the official welcoming ceremony for U.S. troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
U.S. army soldiers and local women pose for a picture after the official welcoming ceremony for U.S. troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
U.S. army soldier reacts after the official welcoming ceremony for U.S. troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
A man shakes hands with U.S. army soldier after the official welcoming ceremony for U.S. troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
U.S. and Polish army soldiers attend an official welcoming ceremony for U.S. troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
U.S. and Polish army soldiers attend an official welcoming ceremony for U.S. troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
WARSAW, POLAND - JANUARY 14: (SOUTH AFRICA AND POLAND OUT) Varsovians participate in the event celebrating the arrival of the US Army to Poland organized by the Polish Army on January 14, 2017 in Warsaw, Poland. The US troops had been arriving in Poland under a NATO operation to reassure the Eastern European alliances. (Photo by Darek Majewski/Gallo Images Poland/Getty Images)
U.S. and Polish army soldiers pose for a picture after the official welcoming ceremony for U.S. troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
U.S. and Polish army soldiers attend an official welcoming ceremony for U.S. troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
People hold U.S. and Polish flags as they watch an official welcoming ceremony for U.S. troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
U.S. and Polish army soldiers attend an official welcoming ceremony for U.S. troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
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"The U.S. Senate and House will not allow the abandonment of the U.S. role in NATO," he said, although he said it was clear Europe needed to do more to secure its own defenses.

Norbert Roettgen, head of Germany's foreign affairs committee, said Germany should fight for "the restoration or preservation of Western unity" as the core of European security.

"Europe is not able to replace the security role of the United States so there is a lot at stake - the very foundations of liberal order internationally and European security. And for that we should fight because it is our very existential interest," Roettgen told Reuters.

In the interview, Trump repeated his criticism of those NATO members who he said were not paying their fair share, noting only five NATO members were spending the agreed target of 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

Germany remains committed to gradually increasing its military spending, Defence Ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff told the news conference. Merkel in November said she could not promise the NATO target would be met "in the near future."

Hardt said more spending was clearly needed, but Germany would also continue to press for greater European cooperation. (Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Andrea Shalal and Paul Carrel; Editing by Paul Carrel and Janet Lawrence)


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