Merkel: Europe can't rely on USA protection anymore

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Merkel's comments on Thursday reprise a theme she first sounded past year in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" foreign policy and his hectoring of European NATO allies for allegedly spending too little on defense.

Iran does not want "new tensions" in the Middle East, President Hassan Rouhani told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, after Israel carried out strikes against what it called Iranian targets in Syria.

"No more so that the United States just to protect us". "That is the task for the future".

Mrs Merkel expressed concerns about the threat of war between Israel and Iran over Syria and said that Europe needed take control of its own destiny to confront global conflicts raging on the edges of the continent.

While European Union countries have made progress on defence cooperation, the effort remains "in its infancy", she said.

Earlier in the week, President Donald Trump withdrew the USA from the 2015 deal.

"We made the choice to build peace and stability in the Middle East", he said in a reference to the involvement of France, Germany and the United Kingdom in the Iran deal.

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He said he hoped the widespread interest he generated would spur Australia and other countries to rethink their laws. "I am glad to arrive", he said from a wheelchair at a French airport Monday as he neared his final destination.

Merkel made a similar appeal a year ago, following visits by President Donald Trump to her country and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance in neighboring Belgium. "The escalations of the past few hours show us that it is truly about war and peace".

"I can only advocate that everyone involved exercises restraint", she stressed.

Speaking after Merkel, Macron said that "We should not be waiting, we must do something right now".

The German leader spoke about European unity at an award ceremony in the city of Aachen, where she praised French President Emmanuel Macron for his "contagious enthusiasm" about the continent and said this would inspire young Europeans.

Israel said yesterday it attacked almost all of Iran's military infrastructure in Syria after Iranian forces fired rockets at Israeli-held territory for the first time.

The quandary was laid clear earlier Wednesday as Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran would quit the deal unless European signatories offered solid guarantees that trade relations would continue after the USA withdrawal.