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Germany promises US greater military involvement

September 24, 2019

Defense spending and the Strait of Hormuz were on the agenda during Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer's trip to Washington on a mission to strengthen ties. US President Trump often criticizes Germany's military expenditure.

German soldiers in Afghanistan
Image: AFP/Getty Images/J. Eisele

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Monday urged closer military relations with the US.

In bilateral talks with her US counterpart, Mark Esper, Kramp-Karrenbauer promised Germany would show more responsibility in defense matters.

Specifically, she voiced her support for a European naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz.

"I made very clear that Germany is ready to be involved, but only in a European mission," she said.

The US is leading an international operation in the key shipping lane. Washington hopes to ensure safe passage for commercial vessels, following Iran's seizure of an oil tanker there earlier this year.

Read more: AKK urges more money for German military

Still room for maneuver

During the meeting at the Pentagon, Esper said that Germany needed to invest more in NATO.

"German leadership is essential," Esper said. "It's more important than ever."

US President Donald Trump has often criticized Germany for not spending enough on defense.

Members of NATO agreed five years ago that each should spend 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense by 2024. Germany estimates that spending in this area will amount to 1.36% of GPD by the end of the year.

"I am sticking to the end goal of 2%. But for 2024, my goal is 1.5%," Kramp-Karrenbauer said. "It's not just about cash. It's also about international commitments."

Quick decision on Tornado replacement

Kramp-Karrenbauer also said she aimed to decide as soon as possible on how to replace Germany's aging fleet of Tornado fighter planes and would be working closely with Esper on the matter.

At the start of the year, Germany dismissed the US-made F-35 fighter as a replacement. There were concerns it could adversely affect a Franco-German next-generation combat jet.

"We made clear that ... the Future Combat Air System with the French was one of the reasons that ... we had to seek other solutions," Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

jsi/rt (Reuters, dpa)

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