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BERLIN (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday urged both sides in the U.S. election to show restraint until the results were available, adding it was irresponsible to aggravate tensions.
"America is more than a one-man show. Anyone who continues to pour oil on the fire in a situation like this is acting irresponsibly," Maas told Germany's Funke media in unusually blunt language.
"Now is the time to keep a cool head until an independently determined result is available," he added in some of his first comments on the situation.
Counting was continuing in the extremely close U.S. presidential election which hinges on razor-thin margins in a handful of states. Republican President Donald Trump has launched a flurry of lawsuits hoping to slow down his opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, and tensions have risen in some places.
"In order for the result - which has not yet been determined - to be accepted, everyone must first show restraint," Maas told Funke media in an interview, extracts of which he tweeted. "That includes us."
"Decent losers are more important for the functioning of a democracy than radiant winners," he added.
Biden took a narrow lead over Trump in the battleground state of Georgia for the first time early on Friday, putting the White House within his reach.
"With such narrow majorities, it is very easy to find yourself on the losing side," Maas said. "This shows how important it is to work to bridge the political divide."
Maas said he expected that once the election result is settled, "the USA will probably not return to the international stage with full energy for the time being", but he added: "The world needs the USA as a force for order, not as a factor of chaos."
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Paul Carrel; Editing by Maria Sheahan)