German leaders recommitted to increasing defense spending on Monday, with hope that the planned drawdown of U.S. troops there will be rescinded with a change of administration in Washington. Photo by Karl Weisel/U.S. Army Garrison Weisbaden
Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Germany's defense spending will grow after U.S. President Donald Trump leaves office, German Defense Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday.
The Trump administration has beat a steady drum for NATO allies to increase their defense spending since taking office, with many of the alliance's members -- including Germany -- doing so during the last four years.
In October, NATO announced that 10 of its 30 member nations achieved the benchmark of dedicating 2 percent of gross domestic product to defense, a goal to be reached by 2024.
In 2014, when the spending level was adopted, only three NATO countries -- the United States, the United Kingdom and Greece -- were in compliance.
Germany's spending was 1.57 percent in 2020, but it has been growing, according to NATO.
"We have committed ourselves to increasing defenses pending, as have other NATO allies," Maas said in a television interview.
"We have described a way in which we intend to achieve this step by step over the coming years. We will stick to this -- you can rely on that. I believe this issue will remain on the agenda, but it will no longer be as much in the spotlight as it was under Donald Trump," Maas said.
Maas added that he regards President-elect Joe Biden as a "staunch multilateralist," noting that he expects "a lot of new opportunities with [Biden], for us Germans but also for Europe and for international cooperation in general."
His comments were supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"The entire world watches the U.S. presidential election with a keen interest every four years," Merkel said Monday in a speech.
"Americans have made their choice," Merkel said. "Germans and Europeans know that we must shoulder greater responsibility for this partnership. America remains our most important ally but it expects from us, for good reason, stronger efforts toward our own security, and to stand up for our convictions in the world."
In congratulating Biden on his victory, Merkel noted that "he has a great deal of experience with Germany and Europe."
Bavarian Minister-President Markus Söder, leader of the German state which includes two large U.S. military bases, expressed hope that a planned drawdown of 12,000 U.S. troops in Germany will be rescinded.
Soder said that he hoped that the U. S. transfer of executive power would "put partially one-sided, politically motivated troop drawdown plans on ice."