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Germany owes 'vast' sums of money for NATO, claims US President Donald Trump

Trump waited until Chancellor Angela Merkel had left the country before making his claim via Twitter. During the meeting he thanked Merkel for her commitment to raise Germany's NATO contributions.

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Trump: Germany owes 'vast sums' for NATO

US President Trump tweeted on Saturday morning that Germany owed a large debt for the protection provided by the United States.

"Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, 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!" he wrote in two Twitter posts sent eight minutes apart.

Trump praise for Germany

In a joint press conference following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, Trump declared his support for NATO and vowed to continue the German-American partnership. He praised Berlin's leadership role in Afghanistan and mediating role in the Ukraine conflict.

Trump stated that the US would respect 'historic institutions,' but said there needed to be balance and fairness in the relationship with the United States.

He thanked Merkel for Germany's commitment to increase its NATO contributions to 2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) from the current 1.2 percent, but said it was "very unfair to the United States" for European allies to take advantage of US defense spending.

On the campaign trail before his inauguration, Trump repeatedly blasted NATO as "obsolete" and criticized allies for not reaching a 2-percent GDP target members of the alliance had agreed to in the wake of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea.  Members committed to reaching the target by 2024. 

The United States spends more than 3 percent of GDP on defense, accounting for about 70 percent of the defense budget of all 28 NATO members. 

Only four other alliance members - Poland, Estonia, Greece and Britain -- currently meet the 2 percent target. Latvia, Lithuania and Romania are expected to do so this year.

Germany argues there should be changes in how contributions are calculated. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said this week the 2-percent target should be indexed to take into account NATO members' participation in operations and exercises, as well as contributions of soldiers and military hardware. 

aw/jm (AP, dpa AFP)

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