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Merkel rejects criticism of German defense spending

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel is rejecting criticism of Germany's defense spending amid suggestions it might decline after next year that have angered the U.S. The finance minister's budget plan reportedly foresees Germany's defense spending rising to 1.37 percent of national income in 2020, then declining to 1.25 percent by 2023. NATO countries have pledged to move toward spending 2 percent of GDP on defense. Merkel's government has pledged to increase spending to 1.5 percent by 2024.

Merkel said Tuesday defense spending has increased as a share of GDP even as the economy has grown. She said long-term budget plans contain "minimal data," and actual spending has always been revised upward.

She highlighted the importance of foreign aid, saying Germany will continue its efforts on defense "but not at the expense of development aid."

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