Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said Bangladesh would be the 9th largest consumer market by 2030 with the government working with the goal of overtaking many established markets in the world. “We’ve been working with a goal so Bangladesh could surpass established markets like the UK and Germany, and the current high-growth countries Vietnam and Thailand at that time. We’ve this effort,” she said. The premier said this while inaugurating the 60 years’ celebration and Investment Expo, 2023 of Foreign Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) at Hotel Radisson Blu in the city. “There are some 17 crore people in our Bangladesh. Besides, we’ve strengthened connectivity with our neighbouring countries. We think Bangladesh would become the world’s 9th largest consumer market by 2030,” she said. Noting that Bangladesh has a large population, she said the government is developing them as skilled manpower for its better utilization. Read: Bangladesh to become world’s 9th largest market by 2030 overtaking UK, Germany: PM Hasina The PM said the number of growing middle class and rich people will be 3.40 crore by 2025 in Bangladesh and the estimated GDP per capita will be 5,880 US$ by 2040. “Due to its strategic geographical location, Bangladesh can be the hub of the regional market of 3 billion people,” she said adding that her government has taken steps to strengthen the connectivity with this region. Hasina said her government has successfully been able to bring a significant change in Bangladesh after assuming office in 2009. “Bangladesh has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world in the last 15 years,” she said. Noting that Bangladesh is now considered as the 35th largest economy in the world, she said they have raised the GDP growth rate to 7.25 percent now due to strong macroeconomic fundamentals and trade consolidation. The PM, however, said the growth rate was even higher during the pre-Covid period as the government raised it to 8:10pc before the pandemic. Read: Only votes can change govt: PM Hasina The government has successfully increased per capita income to US$2,793 from only US$ 543 and raised the GDP size to Tk 50.31 lakh crore now from Tk 4 lakh crore in 2006, she said. During this period, they brought down the poverty rate to 18.7 percent from 41.1 percent, while extreme poverty rate to 5.6 percent from over 25pc, she said adding that her government has given the most importance to the development of the rural economy. In the last 15 years, the Awami League government took multifaceted measures for the development of the business sector of the country. So, the private sector has become stronger and more developed. Bangladesh is currently the second largest garment exporter in the world, she said. “Bangladesh is expected to be the 20th largest economy in the world by 2037,” said Sheikh Hasina, adding that the country will be transformed into a developed and prosperous Smart Bangladesh by 2041. Mentioning that the government is setting up some 100 economic zones and established 39 hi-tech parks throughout the country, she said those economic zones and parks are kept open for foreign investment. If any country can want land singly, seek land under joint venture or public private partnership (PPP), the government would allow them and provide them with lands, she said. Read: PM Hasina collects nomination form for national election The premier said one stop service has been introduced in investment development agencies to facilitate investment. “We have undertaken plans to make all offices providing investment services fully online and digitized,” she said. In Bangladesh, there is a scope to develop USD 350-billion infrastructures in the energy, water, logistics and transport sectors. “By 2025, the logistics sector alone is expected to become a US$90 billion market,” she said. The prime minister said they want to raise private investment to 31.43 percent of GDP by 2031.She said Bangladesh has become an attractive destination to many countries around the world for investment, industrialisation and export due to various reasons including its economic growth, structural development programmes, investment-friendly policy, large domestic market, strategic location, high profitability and large workforce. Talking about the FICCI’s celebration, she said the chamber has stepped into 60 years this year since the inception of its journey in 1936. As a leading chamber, FICCI represents investors from 35 countries in more than 21 sectors of Bangladesh. “FICCI represents 90 percent of the country's inward FDI, which carries special importance to the overall development of our country,” she said. The premier extended sincere thanks to all former and current members of FICCI on the occasion of the celebration of its 60 years. Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi and PM’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman, among others, spoke at the function, while FICCI President and CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Naser Ezaz Bijoy delivered the welcome speech. The premier also unveiled a research book titled ‘Catalyzing Greater FDI for Vision 2041’, which was published by FICCI.
France, Germany ‘regret Bangladeshi court's decision regarding Adilur Rahman and ASM Nasiruddin’: Joint Statement
A vibrant civil society is essential to the prosperity of every nation, according to a joint Franco-German statement. France and Germany are "deeply attached to respect for the rule of law as well as to the democratic acquis in Bangladesh,” it said. They will continue to support defenders of human rights in Bangladesh, like throughout the world, reads the joint statement. Britain, France and Germany say they will keep their nuclear and missiles sanctions on Iran "We regret the Bangladeshi court's decision regarding Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan," said the statement. Bangladesh, France reiterate interest in expanding bilateral trade and exploring potentials for investment in infrastructure "We have expressed our concern to the authorities on this situation and will maintain our dialogue with them on this case," the joint statement said. The two countries recalled that Adilur Rahman Khan, on behalf of the human rights organization Odhikar, was the 2017 recipient of the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law.
Bangladesh to become 3rd largest global market after UK and Germany: PM Hasina tells Commonwealth investors
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday (September 13, 2023) invited investors from the Commonwealth countries to come to Bangladesh in a bigger way. “Geographically, Bangladesh is at the center of a market of 3 billion people. We have 170 million people of our own. By 2030, the affluent population of Bangladesh will stand at 35 million. Therefore, Bangladesh will become the third largest market globally, leaving behind Germany and the United Kingdom,” she said. The prime minister said this while addressing the two-day "Commonwealth trade and investment forum Bangladesh-2023" at Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC). The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, which is the Commonwealth's accredited business network, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Zi Foundation, a family-run foundation that offers support to vulnerable people, jointly organised the event. End the Ukraine war thru negotiations: PM Hasina tells Russian foreign minister The aim is to promote innovation, trade, investment and economic growth, enhance partnerships and explore ways towards sustainable and inclusive economic development for Bangladesh. The PM said that Bangladesh needs development partners for reaching its goal. “We need more high-quality and sustainable investment to accelerate the economic progress of Bangladesh,” she said. She mentioned that as a prerequisite for Biniyog Bikash, or investment promotion, her government has prioritised organisational reforms, the formation of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA), which offering attractive facilities for investors, and ensuring post-investment services. Hasina said that almost all sectors are open for investment in Bangladesh. ‘Why would you call yourselves minority?’: PM to Hindu community But among those, she said, more investment is encouraged in agricultural goods and food processing, leather and leather goods processing, medical equipment, automobiles and shipbuilding, and ICT. “There are promising investment facilities in these sectors, including the easy process of taking back dividends or benefits to your home country,” she said. The premier said that some 70 percent of Bangladesh's foreign direct investment comes from reinvestment, which is a proof of the excellent investment environment that Bangladesh offers to investors. She mentioned that BIDA has started a one-stop fast-track delivery service to facilitate investors with the services of various departments of the government and through this one-stop service, 78 services from 26 departments can be received through one platform. PM Hasina offers land to Japanese businesses to set up industries Mentioning that the pre-requisite for investment is the development of infrastructure, she said that the government has established 100 economic zones, 109 hi-tech and software technology parks, and IT training and incubation centres across the country with attractive incentive packages to promote foreign investors. “We are developing our land, rail, and air connectivity. Almost all highways in the country have been elevated to four or more lanes,” she said. In this connection, she said that the Padma Bridge has connected 21 south-western districts of Bangladesh directly with Dhaka and other parts of the country. “There will be rail connectivity through the Padma Bridge between Dhaka and Khulna soon," she said. Read more: Dhaka, London plan to sign MoUs on economic cooperation, cyber security She said that soon the government will inaugurate the Karnaphuli underwater tunnel, the first such infrastructure not only in Bangladesh but in South Asia. “Work on establishing rail link between Chattogram and tourism town Cox’s Bazar is progressing fast.” Sheikh Hasina said that after winning the election in 2008 and forming the government in 2009, the government has started building the country based on short-, middle-, and long-term programmes. “A democratic environment, political stability, continuity of government, and, above all, structured development programs have helped in the quick socio-economic development of Bangladesh," she stated The prime minister said that the government is working to build a Smart Bangladesh, which will be realised by building the pillars of smart government, smart citizens, a smart economy, and a smart society. “Our goal now is to become a knowledge-based and Developed Smart Country by 2041 and a Prosperous Delta by 2100. We are working relentlessly towards that goal through the Perspective Plan, the Five-Year Plan, and the Delta Plan 2100.” Prime minister's private industry and investment adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Executive Chairman of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Lokman Hossain Miah, Strategic Advisor (Bangladesh) Of CWEIC Zillur Hussain And Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) Chairman Lord Marland also spoke at the programme. PM Hasina also handed over Commonwealth Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Green Investment Award to Eco Brixs from Uganda. A video documentary was screened in the programme. Read more: Russian foreign minister’s recent comment in Dhaka is ‘not the most self-aware’: US State Dept Spokesperson
German authorities have detained a Syrian man on suspicion of planning to carry out an explosives attack motivated by Islamic extremism, officials said Tuesday. Federal police said officers detained the 28-year-old man early Tuesday in the northern city of Hamburg. Investigators say the man is suspected of trying to obtain substances online that would have allowed him to manufacturer an explosive belt “in order to carry out an attack against civilian targets.” Police say the man was encouraged and supported in his action by his 24-year-old brother, who lives in the southern town of Kempten. The men, whose names weren't immediately released, are described as being motivated by “radical Islamist and jihadist” views. Authorities said they had no information indicating a concrete target for the planned attack. Police searched properties in Hamburg and Kempten, seizing large amounts of evidence including chemical substances, officials said. Some 250 officers were involved in the operation. Germany's top security official thanked police, saying their actions “have prevented possible Islamist attack plans.” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the case showed that the danger of Islamic extremism remained high and pledged that German security agencies would continue to take all information about such threats seriously. “Germany remains a direct target of Islamist terrorist organizations," she said. "Islamist-motivated lone perpetrators are another significant threat.”
Climate activists said Tuesday that they will stage further protests in Berlin in an effort to force the German government into doing more to curb global warming. The announcement came as courts are taking a tougher stance against members of the group Last Generation who have repeatedly blocked roads across Germany in the past year. The group said at a news conference in Berlin that it would begin to stage open-ended protests Wednesday in the government district. From Monday onward, members will try to “peacefully bring the city to a standstill,” it said. Last Generation accuses the German government of breaching the country’s constitution, citing a supreme court verdict two years ago that found too much of the burden for climate change was being placed on younger generations. The government under then Chancellor Angela Merkel subsequently raised its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but activists say the measures aren’t consistent with the Paris climate accord. “As long as there’s no plan we can trust to protect our lives and future, and that’s based on the constitution, we are obliged to demand such a plan with all peaceful means,” said Carla Hinrichs, a spokesperson for Last Generation. The group wants Germany to end the use of all fossil fuels by 2030, a step that would be extremely ambitious to achieve. The country switched off its last three nuclear plants over the weekend, increasing its reliance on coal and gas-fired power plants until sufficient renewable energy capacity is available. Last Generation’s protests have drawn sharp criticism from across much of the political spectrum, though there has also been support for their underlying aims. Three activists were sentenced to between three and five months imprisonment by a court in the southwestern city of Heilbronn on Monday. The judge noted that they had joined a blockade in March hours after being sentenced in a previous case. One of the protesters, Daniel Eckert, defended his actions after the verdict, saying: “As long as the true criminals aren’t brought before a court but instead continue to destroy the basis of our existence and profit from it, I can’t do anything other than stand in the way of this destruction.”
China's foreign minister on Friday said the country would not sell weapons to parties involved in the conflict in Ukraine and would regulate the export of items with dual civilian and military use. Qin Gang was responding to concerns from the U.S. and others that China was considering providing military assistance to Russia, which Beijing has backed politically and rhetorically in the conflict while formally saying it remains neutral. Qin reiterated China’s willingness to help facilitate negotiations to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict and said all parties should remain “objective and calm.” Speaking at a news conference with his visiting German counterpart Annalena Baerbock, Qin also blamed Taiwan’s government for heightened regional tensions after Beijing held large-scale military drills in an attempt to intimidate the island it claims as its own territory. On both Ukraine and Taiwan, Qin articulated well-worn defenses of Chinese policies that underscore Beijing's rejection of criticisms from the West, particularly the U.S. Under ardently nationalist leader Xi Jinping, China has been sharpening its rhetoric, particularly on the issue of Taiwan, which split from mainland China amid civil war in 1949. “Regarding the export of military items, China adopts a prudent and responsible attitude," Qin said. "China will not provide weapons to relevant parties of the conflict, and manage and control the exports of dual-use items in accordance with laws and regulations,” he added. In her remarks, Baerbock said that as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China bore a special responsibility for helping end the conflict. She also referred to tensions in the Taiwan Strait, through which much of the world's international trade passes, and said a conflict in the area would be a global disaster. China’s ruling Communist Party sent warships and fighter planes near Taiwan last weekend in retaliation for a meeting between U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the island’s president, Tsai Ing-wen. China insists that self-governing Taiwan submit to its rule, either peacefully or by force, and Qin said the pursuit of independence by Taiwan's government and its foreign supporters — a veiled reference to chief ally the United States — were the reason for the tensions. Apparently rejecting Baerbock's concerns, Qin said Taiwan was “China's internal affair and bore no outside interference." “Taiwan independence and peace can not co-exist,” he said. While Germany has strongly backed Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion, Beijing has blamed the U.S. and NATO for provoking the conflict, refused to criticize Moscow's actions and criticized economic sanctions against President Vladimir Putin's regime. “Territory is indivisible, and security is equally indivisible," Qin said. “Without recognition of the security interests of a particular party, crises and conflicts are inevitable.” "China is willing to continue to work for peace, and hopes that all parties involved in the crisis will remain objective and calm, and make constructive efforts to resolve the crisis through negotiations,” he added.
Germany’s defense industry says it stands ready to ramp up its output, including the kinds of arms and ammunition needed by Ukraine, but needs clarity about what governments want before investing in further production capacity. Ukraine became the world’s third largest importer of arms in 2022 after Russia’s invasion triggered a big flow of military aid to Kyiv from the United States and Europe, according to Swedish think tank SIPRI. Some of those arms were transferred from Western military stocks to Ukraine, while in other cases Kyiv has purchased equipment with its own money or funds provided by allies. But there are concerns particularly over the rate at which Ukraine is using ammunition, straining the capacity of Western defense companies to keep both the Ukrainian military and their own resupplied. “What’s important for us as an industry is to get predictability," the head of Germany’s arms manufacturing association said in an interview this week with The Associated Press. Also Read: Germany warns of ‘consequences’ if China sends arms to Russia “That means we have to be clearly told which products are needed within which time,” said Hans Christoph Atzpodien, managing director of the Federation of German Security and Defense Industries. “And we are prepared,” he added. “The industry is much more flexible than it is given credit for.” The association's members, which include major arms manufacturers such as Rheinmetall, can further boost production, such as by reactivating mothballed facilities and machines, and hiring more staff, he said. “Of course we also need a firm basis in the form of orders, so that the investments can be carried out,” said Atzpodien, adding that proposals to bundle purchases at the European rather than the national level could help — provided this doesn't slow down the procurement process. Likewise, German arms manufacturers are keen to see European countries harmonize their export rules to avoid being disadvantaged compared with competitors in some neighboring countries, he said. After initially hesitating to send lethal weapons to Ukraine, Germany has become one of Kyiv's biggest arms suppliers. The shift has already seen Berlin provide Ukraine with dozens of self-propelled Gepard anti-aircraft guns, Iris-T missile systems, howitzers and millions of rounds of ammunition, but left some Germans deeply uneasy about the possibility of being dragged into a conflict with nuclear-armed Russia. Still, Atzpodien said the final decision on where German-made arms can go should remain a matter for the government. “As companies we agree that German weapons must never fall into the wrong hands," he said. The German government declined to comment Monday on reports that Rheinmetall is in talks with Ukraine about building a tank factory in the country. The company's Leopard 2 tanks are urgently sought by Ukraine, which was recently promised several dozen from Western stocks, but officials wouldn't say whether this requires government approval. Germany's own arms procurement has come under scrutiny after Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged last year to increase defense spending to NATO’s target of 2% of GDP and create a 100-billion-euro ($107 billion) special fund. On Tuesday, parliament’s commissioner for the military lamented the slow pace of Germany’s drive to modernize its armed forces. She noted that none of the 100 billion-euro special fund was actually spent last year, though some major orders were placed. “It is also important to quickly replace equipment that was given to Ukraine” and to speed up maintenance of existing equipment, Eva Hoegl said as she presented her annual report. “The Bundeswehr has too little of everything, and even less since Feb. 24 (2022),” she said. “We have too few tanks to be able to train sufficiently, to exercise … boats and ships are lacking, aircraft are lacking.” Along with the cash coming its way because of the war in Ukraine — Germany's defense minister is also seeking to raise his budget by 10 billion euros a year — the German arms industry is hoping the conflict will mark a turning point in the way military spending is classified in Europe. Some banks and investors in the European Union won't do business with the defense sector because of concerns that it is engaged in unsustainable activity that does more harm than good in the long run, much like fossil fuel producers. Russia's attack on Ukraine had shown the value of military security, said Atzpodien. “Our demand is that products we deliver to the German military or other NATO armed forces, for example, are recognized in such a way by the EU that they support sustainability,” he said. “A signal like that would be important so that actors on the financial markets can adjust to it accordingly.” German arms manufacturers have already come up with a slogan to push their case, he added: “Security is the key to sustainability.”
A shooting at a Jehovah's Witnesses hall in the German city of Hamburg killed eight people, apparently including the perpetrator, police said Friday. An unspecified number of other people were wounded, some of them seriously. Police gave the figure on their website. There was still no word on a possible motive for the shooting on Thursday evening that stunned Germany's second-biggest city. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a former Hamburg mayor, described the shooting as "a brutal act of violence." Police said during the night that they believe that there was only one shooter, and that that this could be a person who was found dead in the building. Investigators worked through the night to secure evidence. On Friday morning, forensic investigators in protective white suits could still be seen outside the building as a light snow fell. Officers placed yellow cones on the ground and windowsills to mark evidence. Hamburg officials said there would be a news conference Friday afternoon to discuss details. David Semonian, a U.S.-based spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses, said in an emailed statement early Friday that members "worldwide grieve for the victims of this traumatic event." "The congregation elders in the local area are providing pastoral care for those affected by the event," he wrote. "We understand that the authorities are still investigating the details of this crime. We appreciate the courageous help provided by the police and emergency services." The scene of the shooting was the Jehovah's Witnesses' Kingdom Hall, a boxy three-story building next to an auto repair shop in the Gross Borstel district, a few kilometers (miles) from downtown Hamburg. Police spokesman Holger Vehren said police were alerted to the shooting about 9:15 p.m. and were on the scene quickly. He said that after officers arrived and found people with apparent gunshot wounds on the ground floor, they heard a shot from an upper floor and found a fatally wounded person upstairs who may have been a shooter. He said police did not have to use their firearms. Student Laura Bauch, who lives nearby, said there were around four periods of shooting, German news agency dpa reported. "There were always several shots in these periods, roughly at intervals of 20 seconds to a minute," she said. She said she looked out her window and saw a person running from the ground floor to the second floor of the Jehovah's Witnesses hall. Gregor Miesbach, who lives within sight of the building, was alerted by the sound of shots and filmed a figure entering the building through a window. Shots can then be heard from inside. The figure later apparently emerges from the hall, is seen in the courtyard and then fires more shots inside. Miesbach told German television news agency NonstopNews that he heard at least 25 shots. After police arrived, one last shot followed about five minutes later, he said. His video showed a person firing multiple shots into the building through a first floor window before the lights inside the room went out. Jehovah's Witnesses are part of an international church, founded in the United States in the 19th century and headquartered in Warwick, New York. It claims a worldwide membership of about 8.7 million, with about 170,000 in Germany. Members are known for their evangelistic efforts that include knocking on doors and distributing literature in public squares. The denomination's distinctive practices include a refusal to bear arms, receive blood transfusions, salute a national flag or participate in secular government. ___ Moulson reported from Berlin. Associated Press journalist David Rising contributed to this story from Bangkok.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says there would be “consequences” if China sent weapons to Russia for Moscow's war in Ukraine, but he's fairly optimistic that Beijing will refrain from doing so. Scholz's comments came in an interview with CNN that aired Sunday, two days after he met U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington. U.S. officials have warned recently that China could step off the sidelines and begin providing arms and ammunition to Moscow. Ahead of his trip, Scholz had urged Beijing to refrain from sending weapons and instead use its influence to press Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Also Read: Germany expels 2 Iranian diplomats over death sentence Asked by CNN if he could imagine sanctioning China if it did aid Russia, Scholz replied: “I think it would have consequences, but we are now in a stage where we are making clear that this should not happen, and I’m relatively optimistic that we will be successful with our request in this case, but we will have to look at (it) and we have to be very, very cautious.” He didn't elaborate on the nature of the consequences. Germany has Europe's biggest economy, and China has been its single biggest trading partner in recent years. Back in Germany on Sunday, Scholz was asked after his Cabinet met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen whether he had received concrete evidence from the U.S. that China was considering weapons deliveries and whether he would back sanctions against Beijing if it helped arm Russia. Also Read: Ausbildung in Germany for Non-EU Students including Bangladesh “We all agree that there must be no weapons deliveries, and the Chinese government has stated that it wouldn’t deliver any," the chancellor replied. “That is what we are demanding and we are watching it." He didn't address the sanctions question. Von der Leyen said that “we have no evidence for this so far, but we must observe it every day.” She said that whether the European Union would sanction China for giving Russia military aid “is a hypothetical question that can only be answered if it were to become reality and fact.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is visiting the White House on Friday for a private meeting with President Joe Biden as both allies become increasingly vocal about their concerns that China may step off the sidelines and supply weapons to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Such a step could dramatically change the war’s trajectory by allowing Moscow to replenish its depleted stockpiles. China is Germany’s top trading partner, and European nations have generally been more cautious than the United States in taking a hard line with Beijing. However, there are signs that may be shifting as global rivalries grow more tense. In a speech to the German parliament on Thursday, Scholz called on China to “use your influence in Moscow to press for the withdrawal of Russian troops, and do not supply weapons to the aggressor Russia.” The U.S. and Germany have worked closely together to supply Ukraine with military and humanitarian assistance. But there has also been friction over issues such as providing tanks, and Washington has occasionally grown frustrated with Berlin's hesitance. Also Read: US to send more ammo, folding armored bridges to Ukraine Maintaining a steady flow of weapons to Kyiv will be critical in the war's second year, especially with both sides planning spring offensives. “We’re proud of the collective efforts that we’ve taken together," John Kirby, a White House national security spokesman, said Thursday. He said the U.S. has not seen any indication that China has made a decision on whether to provide weapons to Russia. Scholz last visited the White House a little more than a year ago, shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine. Very little of Friday's meeting will be open to the public, and no announcements are expected afterward. Unlike formal state visits, such as when French President Emmanuel Macron came to Washington last year, there will be no pomp and ceremony. Scholz's trip will lack the customary press conference where the two leaders take questions from reporters representing both countries. Kirby described it as a “true working visit between these two leaders." The meeting will be intimate, according to a senior German official and a U.S. official. Rather than being constantly flanked by advisers, the officials said, Biden and Scholz are likely to be the only people in the room for much of the time. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the talks. In an interview with German broadcaster Welt, opposition leader Friedrich Merz accused Scholz of being secretive about his trip to Washington, which will take place without the customary press pack in tow. Merz suggested that Scholz had to smooth ruffled feathers over the deal to provide tanks to Ukraine. Scholz dismissed any notion of discord between allies. Asked by The Associated Press about the circumstances of his visit, Scholz said he and Biden “want to talk directly with each other," and he described “a global situation where things have become very difficult." “It is important that such close friends can talk about all of these questions together, continually,” he said. Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security adviser, hinted at some tension between the two countries on Sunday when appearing on ABC's “This Week.” He said Biden originally decided against sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine, believing they wouldn't be immediately useful for Ukrainian forces. However, Sullivan said, Germany would not send its Leopard tanks “until the president also agreed to send Abrams.” “So, in the interest of alliance unity and to insure that Ukraine got what it wanted, despite the fact that the Abrams aren’t the tool they need, the president said, ‘OK, I’m going to be the leader of the free world,’” Sullivan said. “'I will send Abrams down the road if you send Leopards now.' Those Leopards are getting sent now.” Scholz's government has denied there was any such demand made of the U.S. Max Bergmann, a former State Department official who leads the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the U.S. has often wanted Germany, the world's fifth-largest economy, to be more forceful on the global stage. “There’s a hope that, instead of us having to push all the time, that Germany would take a leadership role," he said. Bergmann said Germany has gone a long way toward strengthening its defense, but added that there's more work to do. “The German way of seeing the world doesn’t always align with the U.S. way of seeing the world,” he said.