German defense minister rejects Trump claim that Berlin owes funds to NATO
David GANNON (AFP/File)
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday rejected US President Donald Trump's claim that Berlin owes NATO "vast sums of money" and must pay Washington more for defense.
"There is no account where debts are registered with NATO," Von der Leyen, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said in a statement.
She also noted that NATO spending should not be the only criteria used to measure Germany's military efforts.
On Saturday Trump had tweeted that "Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!"
His tweets came a day after Trump met Merkel in Washington, where the two leaders showed little common ground over a host of thorny issues, including NATO and defense spending.
Merkel said Berlin had committed to increasing its military spending to two percent of GDP, a target NATO member states formally agreed in 2014 to reach within 10 years.
Germany, whose wartime past has led it traditionally to be reticent on defense matters, currently spends 1.2 percent of GDP.
Von der Leyen said on Sunday that Germany's increased military spending would not only go to NATO but would also be used for participating in UN and European peacekeeping missions and to contribute to the fight against the Islamic State extremists.
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