Merkel disputes Trump's NATO debt claim

Merkel disputes Trump's NATO debt claim

March 20th, 2017 by Associated Press in National Political

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, look at a drone on the intel stand during their tour of the CeBIT trade fair in Hanover, Germany, 20 March 2017. (Friso Gentsch/dpa via AP)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

BERLIN (AP) - Chancellor Angela Merkel is underlining Germany's rejection of a claim by President Donald Trump that it owes NATO large sums for underspending on defense. She is also pointing to a history of decades of post-World War II military restraint.

Trump tweeted Saturday that "Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO." Germany is short of a NATO target of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, with the figure currently at 1.23 percent.

Merkel said Monday defense spending is "not just about contributions to NATO, but also about European contributions in Africa for example, U.N. missions." She added: "Not a single NATO member state pays its entire defense budget into NATO."

Merkel said that defense spending "can't be uncoupled from historical developments from one day to the next."