Merkel: By de­sign, mil­i­tary reined-in

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

BERLIN — Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel on Mon­day un­der­lined Ger­many’s re­jec­tion of a claim by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump that her coun­try owes NATO large sums for un­der­spend­ing on de­fense. She also pointed to Ger­many’s his­tory of decades of post-World War II mil­i­tary re­straint.

Trump tweeted Satur­day, a day after meet­ing Merkel in Wash­ing­ton, that “Ger­many owes vast sums of money to NATO.” He added that “the United States must be paid more for the pow­er­ful, and very ex­pen­sive, de­fense it pro­vides to Ger­many!”

Berlin’s de­fense bud­get has long been be­low NATO’s tar­get of 2 per­cent of a mem­ber’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct. The fig­ure is cur­rently at 1.23 per­cent, though Ger­many has been rais­ing de­fense spend­ing and Merkel has stressed its com­mit­ment to reach­ing the tar­get by 2024.

Merkel said de­fense spend­ing is “not just about con­tri­bu­tions to NATO, but also about Euro­pean con­tri­bu­tions in Africa, for ex­am­ple, U.N. mis­sions.”

Merkel said de­fense spend­ing “can’t be un­cou­pled from his­tor­i­cal de­vel­op­ments from one day to the next.” She re­called that the im­me­di­ate post-World War II aim was to have a Ger­many that was in­te­grated into the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

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