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Germany spends more on defence but misses Nato target

Staff Writer |
Germany, under fire from U.S. President Donald Trump for not meeting Nato’s defence spending goal, is boosting military budgets.

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But it also wants Trump to map out a consistent foreign policy agenda, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.

Trump sparked concern among the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) and EU foreign ministers on Monday when he said that Nato was obsolete and criticised the alliance members that failed to meet the alliance’s target of spending 2% of national output on defence.

A key Trump adviser said on Tuesday that only parts of Nato were obsolete, while Nikki Haley, his nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, said Nato was an important alliance and she did not believe it was obsolete.

“We want the Americans to be clear, ‘What is your agenda’,” von der Leyen told German broadcaster NTV. “The most important thing... is reliability.”

Von der Leyen said Germany was boosting military spending by nearly €2bn in 2017 to €37bn, or 1.22% of gross domestic product (GDP)

It is due to reach €39.2bn by 2020.

“We’re moving in the right direction, but we can’t do it in one year,” she told NTV.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in November that she did not expect Germany to meet its Nato defence spending target in the near future.

Von der Leyen welcomed support for Nato voiced by Trump’s defence secretary nominee, James Mattis, during his Senate confirmation hearing.

“He’s very reliable,” she said, adding that the Trump administration still had to resolve some issues internally.

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