Germany and France have erupted in fury at the US, after politicians in the two leading EU countries accused their transatlantic ally of “modern day piracy”. Germany was left stunned after the US apparently seized a shipment containing millions of medical equipment that had been bound for Berlin, amid the coronavirus pandemic. French officials claimed that Americans were outbidding Emmanuel Macron’s government over orders for millions of face masks in China, even after the shipments had been loaded onto a plane for Paris.
On Friday, German officials claimed that the US “confiscated” 200,000 3M masks that Germany had ordered for their medical workers from a 3M factory in China.
When asked, Berlin’s interior minister Andreas Geisel did not hold back in his description of the US.
He said: “We consider that an act of modern piracy. You don’t treat your transatlantic partners like that.
“Even in times of global crisis, there should be no wild-west methods.”
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Mr Geisel called on Angela Merkel to immediately “press the US to stick to international rules”.
Another German official, the mayor of Berlin, accused President Trump of “a lack of solidarity” with allies facing the pandemic.
The US were able to “block” the shipment from the American-owned 3M company after President Donald Trump invoked a Korean War-era law prohibiting the export of medical products.
On Thursday, two French officials similarly claimed that they were outbid by Americans on millions of medical masks in China – an allegation the US has denied.
According to the French officials, the US buyers paid three times the market price for the face masks, even as they sat on a plane in Shanghai ready for take-off.
Jean Rottner, a doctor and president of the GrandEst regional council, told RTL radio that the US buyers had turned up on the tarmac offering cash.
A senior US official on Thursday rejected the allegations, calling the stories “completely false”.
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Canada joined Germany and France in their diplomatic accusations after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked officials to look into similar claims that masks were being diverted from his country, calling such reports “concerning”.
Both Germany and France have been hit hard by the pandemic, which has ravaged much of the European Union.
Germany has seen more than 90,964 cases and 1,234 deaths as of Friday afternoon while France has recorded more than 64,338 cases and 6,507 deaths.
Donald Trump is believed to have acted after coming under increasing pressure in his own country aimid a lack of emergency equipment.
On Friday, the US conavirus infection rate soared past 258,000, with more than 6,600 dead.
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