Germany's Merkel disputes Trump's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation debt claim

Trump and Merkel shakes hands following their joint news conference

Trump and Merkel shakes hands following their joint news conference

Donald Trump's claim that Germany owes North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the United States "vast sums" of money for defence has been rejected by German Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen.

"There is no debt account at NATO", German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement, elaborating on the distribution of Berlin's military expenditure, which is also allocated to United Nations peacekeeping, European Union operations and anti-terror efforts in addition to NATO missions.

"There is no debt account at NATO", German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement on Sunday, adding that it was wrong to link the alliance's target for members to spend 2 percent of their economic output on defense by 2024 exclusively to NATO. Even before Mr. Trump took office, Europe's low expenditure was a sore point for the United States, which puts up 70 percent of the alliance's funds. Germany spent 1.19 percent of its GDP on defense a year ago.

German defense spending is set to increase by 1.4 billion euros to 38.5 billion euros in 2018, Reuters reported.

But Trump insinuated on Saturday that Germany has short-changed the alliance.

Trump tweeted the words just a day after his meeting with German Chancellor Merkel in Washington, where according to German media, the two had a "Not warm, but not distant" meeting.

He added that "the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!" But the Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania, fearful of the threat of Russian Federation from the east, are on course to meet the 2 percent goal, as is Romania.

However, as Daalder also wrote in his nine-tweet explanation, "Those who currently don't spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense are now increasing their defense budgets".

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump earned a rare rebuke from a foreign official.

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