Germany: Merkel's challenger questions NATO 2 percent target

BERLIN (AP) " Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-left challenger is promising that Germany would be a "strong and reliable" NATO member under his leadership, but again questioned the aim of dedicating 2 percent of gross domestic product to defense spending.

The new U.S. administration has stepped up pressure on NATO allies to reach 2 percent. Germany is one of many countries falling short, with the figure currently at 1.23 percent.

Martin Schulz, who hopes to oust Merkel in a September election, and his Social Democrats have questioned whether NATO ever agreed to a firm 2 percent target, pointing to a 2014 summit declaration that said allies "aim to move toward the 2 percent guideline within a decade."

Schulz told foreign reporters Monday that "what we need is not an arms race but disarmament initiatives."

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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