Germany’s Merkel: 2% of GDP on defense by 2031 ‘realistic’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, right, shake hands after a joint a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

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BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s defense minister is calling for the country to spend 2% of gross domestic product on defense by 2031, a target Chancellor Angela Merkel called “realistic but ambitious.”

NATO members in 2014 agreed to “aim to move toward” increasing defense spending to 2% of GDP by 2024. The U.S. has criticized Berlin’s defense spending, which is rising but now stands at 1.36% of GDP.

Germany aims to reach 1.5% by 2024. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who leads Merkel’s party, says it should reach 2% by 2031.

Merkel said after meeting Thursday with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that, in view of what Germany has done in recent years, “it is a realistic but ambitious proposal to reach this (2 in 2031.”

The 2% defense spending aim is disputed by the junior partners in Merkel’s coalition government.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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