Trump, Germany’s Merkel concur on NATO, military strength

In his first contact with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday, President Trump held a wide-ranging phone call with the embattled European leader in which Merkel pledged to increase defense expenditures for the Bundeswehr, the country’s armed forces and military administration.

During their conversation, the president and Chancellor Merkel discussed the Middle East and North Africa, relations with Russia, the situation in Ukraine and the defense alliance, NATO.

A joint statement released following the phone call revealed the two agreed for NATO to function accordingly and efficiently and member states were obligated to provide the financial means to maintain a robust military force.

“The leaders recognized that NATO must be capable of confronting 21st century threats and that our common defense requires appropriate investment in military capabilities to ensure all allies are contributing their fair share to our collective security,” read an approved joint statement.

Mr. Trump had questioned the worth of the alliance as a presidential candidate, often asserting it was “outdated” and in desperate need of reform.

Similarly, Trump had criticized member states which were not apportioning adequate budgetary needs to sustain combat forces, compelling the United States shoulder a larger financial to support the military partnership.

Merkel has promised to increase the German military budget, now at 1.19 percent of its GDP, but has not indicated when or the extent of the increase will be.

In addition, the chancellor “explained” to Trump the importance of the Geneva convention regarding refugees, and ultimately “regrets the U.S. government’s entry ban against refugees and the citizens of certain countries,” according to a statement by a Merkel spokesperson.

“The Geneva refugee convention requires the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds. All signatory states are obligated to do. The German government explained this policy in their call yesterday,” the statement continued.

 

Editor’s note: This article has been updated

 

[Reuters] [The Guardian] [Photo courtesy Don Emmert, Tobia Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images via Politico]