No dues to NATO, US for defence: Germany

German defence minister says wrong to link alliance's target for members to spend 2 per cent of their economic output on defence by 2024 solely to NATO

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) and US President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday. Pic/AFP
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) and US President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday. Pic/AFP

Berlin: German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen yesterday rejected US President Donald Trump's claim that Germany owes NATO and the United States "vast sums" of money for defence.

"There is no debt account at NATO," von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that it was wrong to link the alliance's target for members to spend 2 per cent of their economic output on defence by 2024 solely to NATO.

"Defence spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism," von der Leyen said.

She added that everyone wanted the burden to be shared fairly and for that to happen it was necessary to have a "modern security concept" that included a modern NATO but also a European defence union and investment in the United Nations.

Trump had tweeted on Saturday, a day after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington, 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!"

Trump has urged Germany and other NATO members to accelerate efforts to meet its defence spending target.

German defence spending is set to rise by €1.4 billion to €38.5 billion in 2018 — a figure that is projected to represent 1.26 per cent of economic output, finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said. In 2016, Germany's defence spending ratio stood at 1.18 per cent.

During her trip to Washington, Merkel reiterated Germany's commitment to the 2 per cent military spending goal.

Xi, Tillerson vow to strengthen ties
Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday vowed to work with the United States for healthy and stable development of bilateral ties, calling cooperation the "correct" choice for both the countries. "We should properly handle and manage sensitive issues to promote the healthy and stable development of sino-US relationship from a new start," Xi told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Beijing.

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