Berlin (dpa) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Thursday at the former border between East and West Germany ahead of the 30th anniversary commemorations for the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The two officials were visiting the village of Moedlareuth which was sliced in two during the division of Germany, with the northern part in Thuringia in the former East, and the southern part in Bavaria in the former West.
The border, which was one of the most heavily guarded in the world during the Cold War, came down in a peaceful popular revolution on November 9, 1989.
Pompeo knew of the village of just 50 people from his time based in Germany as a young man in the 1980s when he served as a commander of a tank unit in Bavaria.
“Inspired to be in Moedlareuth, or ‘Little Berlin,’ a town divided by a wall that straddled East and West during the Cold War,” Pompeo tweeted alongside a photograph of himself and Maas.
“Thirty years ago, I served here alongside my German friends. Today, I spoke with students representing a unified Germany; I am confident in their future.”
Pompeo crossed a bridge in the village between the two states of Thuringia and Bavaria and then visited a border museum.
The secretary of state, along with Maas, later visited the eastern city of Leipzig, where the 1989 revolution began.
Famed Leipzig civil rights activist Uwe Schwabe earlier announced he had rejected a meeting with Pompeo because of political concerns.
He said current US foreign policy was contrary to the goals for which the demonstrators had taken to the streets in 1989.
Pompeo will later head to the nearby city of Halle, where a right-wing extremist attacked a synagogue last month and killed two people near the building.
Pompeo, formerly the head of the CIA, landed late on Wednesday in Nuremberg and was greeted by the US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell.
He then met US troops early on Thursday stationed in the Bavarian towns of Grafenwoehr and Vilseck to witness a live drill.
The US has around 35,000 soldiers remaining in Germany, with 10,000 in Grafenwoehr and Vilseck.
Pompeo is due to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday, along with Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.
He is likely to raise issues such as defence spending, 5G technology and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, all areas of friction between the two NATO allies.
The US is also threatening the EU with punitive tariffs, which could hit the German car industry especially hard.
The top US diplomat plans to leave Germany just before the actual anniversary of the fall of the Wall on Saturday.