Trump speaks with Germany's Merkel over latest tensions in Middle East

Trump speaks with Germany's Merkel over latest tensions in Middle East

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday about Middle East security issues and the situation in Libya, according to the White House.

"Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump spoke with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. The two leaders discussed ongoing regional security matters in the Middle East and Libya and other bilateral issues,” said White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere.

Russia is hosting Libya’s dueling leaders on Monday for discussions as part of an effort by Russia and Turkey to bring an end to the country’s years-long civil war.

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Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinSchiff shows clip of McCain in Trump impeachment trial The need for clear thinking about Russia German president expresses 'sorrow' for Holocaust, warns 'spirits of evil' are rising MORE met with Merkel in Moscow on Saturday and both called for a ceasefire and de-escalation of the conflict in Libya.

Trump’s call with Merkel also comes as his administration faces continued questions about the president’s decision to authorize a drone strike in Iraq against Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a top military leader who commanded Tehran’s Quds Force, which is a designated terrorist organization.

The strike, which the Trump administration has described as a defensive measure, raised concerns about further instability of the Middle East.

Germany issued a statement earlier this month characterizing the U.S. strike against Soleimani as a reaction to provocations from Iran, reiterating the need to deescalate the situation. 

Last week, Iran launched retaliatory missile attacks against Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, which did not result in any casualties. The Trump administration unveiled new economic sanctions to penalize Iran last week but the president has thus far held off on further military action.

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The Trump administration has described the Soleimani strike as a defensive measure aimed at preventing "imminent" attacks being plotted by Iran, though officials have remained tight-lipped about the details of those plans.

Lawmakers have complained about the lack of detail provided by administration officials in classified briefings regarding the intelligence that led to the strike.

Trump asserted in an interview with Fox News last week that Iran was planning to target four U.S. embassies, including the embassy in Baghdad. However, Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Veterans group seeks Trump apology for comments on brain injuries | Pentagon says dozens of troops suffered traumatic injuries after attack | Trump unveils Space Force logo Commerce Department withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon pushback: reports  Dozens of US troops suffered traumatic brain injuries after Iran missile strikes MORE said Sunday he didn’t see specific evidence that Iran planned to attack four embassies.