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

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the media during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

BERLIN – 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.