German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday 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 percent of their economic output on defence by 2024 solely to NATO.
Ursula von der Leyen, German Defence MinisterDefence spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism.
Trump said on Twitter 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, defence it provides to Germany!"
Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2017
...vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2017
Trump has urged Germany and other NATO members to accelerate efforts to meet NATO's defence spending target.
German defence spending is set to rise by 1.4 billion euros to 38.5 billion euros in 2018 – a figure that is projected to represent 1.26 percent of economic output, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said.
In 2016, Germany's defence spending ratio stood at 1.18 percent.
During her trip to Washington, Merkel reiterated Germany's commitment to the 2 percent military spending goal.