What you need to know about the new German diplomacy initiative
In Germany, the new diplomatic initiative, which was announced on Monday, will provide Germany with the most powerful weapons against Iran, China and Russia, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said.
It will also allow the German government to keep its existing economic and military support for Nato and other European security and defence organisations, including Britain and France.
The initiative, launched by the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the German ambassador to the United States, Hans Joachim Schelling, was welcomed by German defence and foreign ministers.
“This is a very significant step forward in our defence strategy, and a signal of how important it is to the defence of Europe,” Ms Merkel said.
“Germany has long been a leader in this area and now it is in a position to defend our European interests.
Mr Schelling added: “The German state has always been the guarantor of security for Europe, and in this regard this initiative will make it possible for us to have a much more robust and effective defence.”
The German foreign ministry said it was keen to see the new initiative continue to develop over time, but also noted that Germany had to be ready to respond in any way necessary.
Ms Merkel also said that the German military would no longer be required to deploy to Nato nations under the new arrangements.
What you need now: Germany’s new foreign policy initiative, to be unveiled on Monday.
What to know: It is the first major step by Germany in its long-running efforts to confront Iran and Russia in the Middle East, and to put the US on notice that it has no appetite for military intervention in the region.
Why it matters: In a sign of the challenges facing the European Union, Germany has been at the forefront of a string of defence cuts and cuts in its military budget, while Russia and China have taken up the mantle of regional threats.
Who’s behind the new diplomacy: The new foreign ministers, Mr Schelling and Mr Steinmeier are the latest ministers in a wave of departures from Nato, the alliance which Ms Merkel leads.
It was the first time that a Nato country had formally left the alliance since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In the first year of the new era, the EU had not been included on the list of countries that can join the alliance, but since then, there have been several moves by the 27 members to re-assess its military balance.
This week, Mr Steinmeiser was invited to Germany by Mr Scheling and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Belgium and Poland to discuss the alliance’s defence.
A key concern for Germany is the rapid expansion of Iran’s nuclear program, which is estimated to have at least 50 centrifuges.
But the new plan is not about defending the European region.
It is about helping the Germans to keep their influence in a region where they have traditionally struggled to build a credible counterweight to China and to Russia.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Germany’s new Foreign Minister, Frank Walter Steinmeier.
Its diplomatic outreach to China is a challenge for the US.
Germany is also keen to keep the European defence alliance.
It has been one of the few western allies to maintain close ties with the US since the end of the Cold War.
Where is it now?
It has so far only been announced in Germany, where the German public has been invited to weigh in on the new foreign policies.
However, it is likely to be a major influence in the run-up to the Nato summit, in which the world’s 27 countries will gather to discuss their response to the new Iran and Russian threats.
The summit, to take place in May, will be held in Berlin.
Read more about Germany’s foreign policy: What is the new approach to Iran?
The announcement on Monday comes amid a series of setbacks for Germany in the conflict with Iran.
Germany, which has suffered years of economic decline and is now suffering from chronic economic difficulties, is already facing sanctions and economic stagnation.
On Saturday, Germany’s trade surplus was slashed by €2.4bn ($2.7bn) as the German economy fell into a deeper slump.
Meanwhile, it was revealed on Sunday that Germany’s economy contracted by 1.5% in the first quarter, with the biggest hit coming from the mining sector.
Do you know more about China?
For years, Germany and other western countries have been working to persuade China to put an end to its growing military and economic ambitions.
Last year, China agreed to a landmark deal that would see it limit its nuclear programme in return for a reduction in tariffs.
Now, it seems that Mr Schellings new initiative will have some influence on the Chinese, who have recently begun to build up military and industrial capacities