After Merkel meeting, Trump says Germany owes "vast sums" to NATO

A day after hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House, President Trump said Saturday that Germany owes “vast sums of money” to NATO.

Mr. Trump, who’s spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, tweeted that he had a “great” meeting with Merkel despite some reports that he implied suggested otherwise.

During a joint press conference Friday between the two leaders, Mr. Trump said that he told Merkel that NATO members need to contribute more to the alliance.

“I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO, as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense,” he said. “Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years, and it is very unfair to the United States.  These nations must pay what they owe.”

President Trump speaks as he holds a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the East Room of the White House in Washington March 17, 2017.

President Trump speaks as he holds a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the East Room of the White House in Washington March 17, 2017.

Reuters/Jim Bourg

NATO says that its members should pay at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) each year on defense. While the U.S. spends the most of any nation, more than 3 percent of its GDP, countries like Germany and France are lagging behind. According to NATO figures, Germany spent 1.2 percent of its GDP last year on defense and France spent 1.8 percent of its GDP.

As for the “fake news” comment, Mr. Trump might have been referring to an awkward moment that transpired in the Oval Office when the press yelled out that they should shake hands. Mr. Trump didn’t respond. Merkel asked him something about a handshake and he still didn’t respond. They later shook hands at the press conference.

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.