Trump’s Row with Merkel Over Defense Spending
Does Germany Owe “Vast Sums of Money” to NATO?
Germany’s Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen has denied US President Donald Trump’s statement that Angela Merkel’s administration owes “vast sums of money” to NATO.
The denial comes after what has been described as a less than friendly meeting with Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, at the White House.
The comments from German came as Trump’s spokesman denied that the US leader had refused to shake hands with Merkel, arguably the most powerful woman in world.
The stark differences between Trump and Merkel on everything from trade to immigration were in full view during their frosty first White House meeting on Friday.
Did Trump Refuse to Shake Merkel’s Hand?
The visit began cordially, with the two world leaders shaking hands at the White House entrance, but things took a different turn when Merkel’s suggestion of another handshake in the Oval Office was not taken up by Trump, giving rise to an awkward moment.
Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer told the German newpaper Der Spiegel that “I don’t believe he heard the request.”
G20 Environment Row
The difficult encounter came as a new row erupted over the environment at a G20 meeting of finance ministers in Germany, when Trump’s administration decided not to renew a previous agreement on climate change.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that environmental issues were “not in my track.”
Another Fake News Attack on Trump
Die Welt newspaper claimed that “Donald Trump is trying to ruin Merkel’s G20 summit,” which is being hosted by Germany in July.
Trump responded to the media’s negative spin on his meeting with Merkel by tweeting:
Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel’s Below-Target Defense Spending
Trump also added:
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!
Germany’s defence minister von der Leyen, a close Merkel ally, released a statement, saying “There is no account where debts are registered with NATO.”
In 2014, NATO members agreed a defense spending target of 2% of GDP per year. Currently, the USA is spending more than 3% of its GDP on defense. Only four other NATO member states, including the UK, meet or exceed the target. Germany only spends 1.2%, leaving other members, such as the US and the UK, to carry the burden. Instead, Merkel is spending billions of German tax payers’ Euros accommodating the massive influx of Muslim refugees.
There may not be an unpaid defense bill sitting in Merkel’s drawer, but it is clear that, under her government, Germany is not meeting its financial commitment to NATO.
With additional reporting from DefenseTalk.com.