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Germany Rejects Trump Claim That It Owes NATO 'Vast Sums'

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen

Germany has rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's assertion that it owes "vast sums of money" to NATO and the United States for defense.

The statement by German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen came in response to Trump's claim on Twitter following his March 17 meeting in Washington with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"There is no debt account at NATO," von der Leyen said in a March 19 statement, adding that the alliance's target for defense spending by members is not linked exclusively to contributions to NATO.

In 2014, NATO agreed to a plan under which each member state would boost its defense spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2024.

Merkel has stressed that Berlin is committed to this goal.

Von der Leyen said in her statement that Germany's increased defense spending would go not only toward NATO but also toward UN and EU peacekeeping efforts and toward combating Islamic State militants.

Trump's March 18 claim on Twitter followed his first meeting with Merkel since he took office in January.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa
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