U.S. freezes troop withdrawal from Germany, ends support for Yemen conflict
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the United States is freezing troop withdrawal from Germany and ending its support for offensive operations in the Yemen conflict.
In his first major foreign policy speech since taking office, Biden outlined his foreign policy vision focused on diplomacy, alliance, multilateralism, and values, standing in contrast with his predecessor Donald Trump's "America First" approach.
Biden in the speech also unveiled several policy changes regarding the Yemen conflict, U.S. forces posture in Germany, and refugee issues.
He said that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin would initiate a global forces posture review to ensure that U.S. military footprint is appropriately aligned with foreign policy and national security priorities.
"And while this review is taking place, we'll be stopping any planned troop withdrawal from Germany," he said.
The former Trump administration announced a repositioning plan for nearly 12,000 U.S. troops stationed in Germany last summer, a controversial move that drew criticism from home and abroad.
Biden also reversed the previous administration's position on the Yemen conflict.
"We are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales," Biden said.
He noted that the United States would step up diplomacy and support UN-led initiative to end the war, which he called a "humanitarian and strategic catastrophe."
Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier in the day had appointed Timothy Lenderking, a veteran diplomat with long experience in regional affairs, as U.S. special envoy to Yemen, according to Biden.
Biden in his remarks also said he would restore the U.S. refugee admission program to accept 125,000 refugees during the first full fiscal year of his administration, a significant increase compared to the number in the Trump era.
Yemen has been mired in civil war since late 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized control of several northern provinces and forced the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of the capital Sanaa.
The Saudi-led coalition intervened in the Yemen conflict in March 2015 to support Hadi's government. The war has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced 4 million and pushed the country to the brink of famine.
U.S. lawmakers from both parties previously introduced several measures to curtail U.S. support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition's war in Yemen, but those attempts were thwarted by then President Trump.