German Chancellor Angela Merkel has issued a stark warning against abandoning international political structures, calling for treaties rejected by the US to be rescued.
"We cannot simply break them down," she said in a wide-ranging address to the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, observing that there were "a great many conflicts that challenge us".
The comments by Merkel, who is in the twilight of her political career as she prepares to step down as chancellor in 2021, were seen as a clear rebuke to the actions of US President Donald Trump.
Her lengthy address was seen as a highpoint of the annual conference and drew a standing ovation from the crowd, including some 30 heads of state and government and around 90 government ministers, including US Vice President Mike Pence.
She called for the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to be saved after the US announced earlier this month it was withdrawing effective August 2, citing repeated Russian infringements over years.
The US withdrawal was "inevitable," Merkel said, while noting that it was a matter of interest that a "treaty that was basically made for Europe, a disarmament treaty that affects our security, is being cancelled by the US and Russia as the successor to the Soviet Union".
But Pence repeated his demand for the three European countries party to the treaty - Germany, Britain and France - to withdraw from it.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the US of pressuring its NATO allies to stay away from Russia in the fight over the INF Treaty.
"We want to show them the rockets that the Americans believe violate the treaty," said Lavrov on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. But neither US representatives nor those from NATO member countries have taken Russia up on the invitation, he said.
"We have no doubt that the US gave NATO countries an order to the tune of 'Do not go there!'" said Lavrov.
Lavrov said on Saturday that Washington has for months clearly shown no interest in keeping the treaty and that the US had long planned to leave it. "That is absolutely no invitation to dialogue, that's a final decision," said the Russian diplomat.
Pence also turned his fire on Iran in Munich.
"The time has come for our European partners to stop undermining US sanctions against this murderous revolutionary regime," he said, reiterating criticism he had lobbed at the EU during a conference on the Middle East in Warsaw earlier in the week.
"The time has come for our European partners to withdraw" from the Iran deal and "bring the economic and diplomatic pressure necessary to give the Iranian people, the region and the world the peace, security and freedom they deserve," he told conference after Merkel spoke.
Australian Associated Press