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German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen gestures during a talk with journalists in Berlin on March 14, 2017. (AFP photo)
Germany has dismissed remarks by US president Donald Trump on the need for Berlin to increase its contribution to the NATO military bloc.
Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday that Trump was wrong to assume that Germany and other NATO members have to spend the entire two-percent of their economic output on issues related to the bloc, saying the money should also cover other military endeavors.
"Defense spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS (Daesh) terrorism,” said von der Leyen in a statement, rejecting claims by Trump that Germany owes NATO and the United States "vast sums" of money.
"There is no debt account at NATO," said the top German military official, adding that it is necessary for NATO members to have a "modern security concept" which included investment in other missions.
The statement came a day after Trump took to his Twitter account and urged Germany to accelerate efforts to meet NATO's target, which is, as agreed in 2014, for all NATO members to spend two percent of their economic output on defense by 2024.
Trump said, one 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!"
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and US President Donald Trump are seen in a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House March 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
During Merkel’s visit to the US, the second by a European leader since Trump took office in January, the two sides showed little in common on major issues, including on NATO. Merkel said, however, that her country would remain committed to the target.
Germany is to increase defense spending in 2018 by 1.4 billion euros to reach 38.5 billion euros. That would mean a 3.9-rise but the sum would still be 1.26 percent of its economic output and shy of NATO benchmark. Spending a full two-percent of Germany’s GDP would put Berlin's defense budget on a par with Russia's at around 65 billion euros (USD 70 billion).

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