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German foreign minister to visit US with 'friendship offer'

Germany's foreign minister is heading for Washington to meet newly sworn-in U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and convey what he calls an "offer of friendship and trust."

Sigmar Gabriel's trip on Thursday follows criticism by Chancellor Angela Merkel of President Donald Trump's restrictions on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries. It also comes amid concern in Berlin about the new administration's intentions on trade.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives to address a press conference at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party headquarters in Berlin, on November 20, 2016.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives to address a press conference at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party headquarters in Berlin, on November 20, 2016.

Gabriel, who is also Germany's vice chancellor, is also expected to meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. He stressed the United States' longstanding status as his country's closest ally outside Europe.

Gabriel said that "the friendship between two nations is far more than thriving cooperation between governments, but without good and trusting relations between both governments it can't go well."