NATO spending target not some "fetish" for Germany - Merkel

NATO spending target not some

The relationship between Europe and the United States should endure differences such as the diplomatic dispute about Iran's nuclear program, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures during a meeting with young people and monks at the Salone Papale in Assisi, Italy, May 12, 2018.

The target was not "some fetish", but reflected changing security requirements in the world, Merkel told senior military officers.

Finance minister Olaf Scholz has so far rebuffed such calls by his cabinet colleague, arguing that higher spending does not automatically translate to a better defense strategy.

The German Defence Ministry will notify lawmakers shortly that it will proceed with plans to lease Israeli-built Heron-TP surveillance drones, a programme that was delayed previous year, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen told top military officers on Monday.

German cabinet
NATO spending target not some "fetish" for Germany - Merkel

Members of the military alliance agreed to move towards spending two-percent of GDP on defense by 2024.

Experts said the jump in spending is a significant increase from the current percentage of 1.2-percent, but still short of its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation obligation. "Rather, fulfilling our worldwide commitments plus the defense of the alliance and our country make such an expense necessary".

Germany's internal debate about military spending had already raised questions about its credibility, Merkel said, adding that she often faced tough questions about the issue.

On Tuesday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that after talks with the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Iran in Brussels, the sides had agreed to work out practical solutions in response to the USA withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal, within the next few weeks.