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NATO: Germany pushes back on Trump’s NATO demands - by.D.M. Herszenhorn and G. Paravicini

With U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visiting NATO for the first time, Germany pushed back Friday against U.S. President Donald Trump’s repeated demands that allies increase their military spending.

Tillerson is the third Trump emissary to visit NATO headquarters in recent weeks and insist that allies show his boss the money by devising specific plans to reach a previously agreed target of spending 2 percent of annual GDP on defense.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence brought the same message on separate visits in February.

But exasperation has been rising in Germany, especially after Trump marked Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Washington by tweeting that Berlin “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!”

German officials, including Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, rejected that assertion and fired back that Trump did not understand how NATO’s finances actually work.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who like Tillerson was attending his first NATO ministerial gathering, told journalists in Brussels that the U.S. was wrongly interpreting a 2014 declaration by NATO leaders in Wales to step up efforts to reach the 2 percent goal. He said that while Germany was working to increase military spending, the target was not mandatory.

Read more: Germany pushes back on Trump’s NATO demands – POLITICO

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