Calls grow in Germany for expulsion of disputed US envoy


"I think there is a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left", he said.

"We have asked the USA side for clarification, and whether (the remarks) were made as reported", a spokesperson for the German foreign ministry told reporters at a regularly scheduled press conference, according to Reuters.

The comments by Richard Grenell, a former US spokesman at the United Nations and an outspoken defender of Trump, drew criticism from politicians across the German political spectrum, warning him not to meddle in domestic politics.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a tweet that Grenell's interview with Breitbart was "awful", adding, "Ambassadors aren't supposed to "empower" any political party overseas".

But the opposition far-left Die Linke party's chief Sahra Wagenknecht said Grenell had disqualified himself as ambassador.

A German Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Monday said that Grenell would have to "explain what he meant" during his first official visit on Thursday.

Grenell made the comments during an interview with the far-right publication Breitbart over the weekend.

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Israel's far-right prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced at a news conference with Chancellor Merkel that he had agreed to a brief meeting with Grenell, at the ambassador's request, before leaving the German capital.

German Green Party member Omid Nouripour publically castigated Grenell as a neophyte who little understanding of his role as an ambassador, saying, "The comments made by Richard Grenell give the impression that the new United States ambassador still hasn't adjusted to his new role".

Shaheen made the statement in reference to comments from Grenell during an interview with Breitbart London on Sunday in which he said he wants to "empower other conservatives" to rise up against "elites". "I wouldn't draw any meaning into that that just doesn't exist", Netanyahu told reporters.

Grenell, who took his post in Berlin less than a month ago, drew criticism last month for a Twitter comment saying German companies should stop doing business in Iran after Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 worldwide accord to restrain Tehran's nuclear weapons development in exchange for lifting sanctions that had hobbled the Iranian economy. The deputy parliamentary leader of that party, Rolf Muetzenich, told Reuters: "Clearly the USA ambassador sees himself as an extension of a right-wing conservative world movement". "The idea that I'd endorse candidates/parties is ridiculous", he wrote on Twitter early Monday. Diplomats are traditionally expected to maintain their political neutrality and not interfere in the internal affairs of other nations. "This interview is terrible - ambassadors aren't supposed to "empower" any political party overseas", Sen.

Many German politicians have also criticized Grenell. "I'm a big fan", said Grenell, referring to the leader of Austria's conservatives who has formed a government with the far right.

While the statement might appear benign on its face, Germany's parliament is already controlled by the center-right Christian Democratic Union; the party's leader, Angela Merkel, has served as the country's chancellor since 2005.

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