NATO Spending Won’t Be in ‘Spotlight’ with Biden, German Foreign Minister Says

German foreign minister Heiko Maas said NATO and defense spending will “no longer be as much in the spotlight” during a Joe Biden administration, Politico reported Monday.

“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 told German media.

In the same interview, Maas did claim that Germany would not backtrack on spending, however.

Increasing key NATO members’ spending on the transatlantic alliance has been a major priority for the Trump administration, especially as the organization takes a more competitive posture against China and Russia. A NATO internal report last month showed that defense spending from American allies has accelerated during the Trump administration, with 10 NATO members now meeting the 2-percent-of GDP benchmark, up from only 3 members in the late Obama years.

“We expect this trend to continue,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at the time. “Allies are also investing more in major capabilities … and continue to contribute to our missions and operations.”

Germany, however, has held out on efforts to strengthen NATO spending, with its overall defense spending still under 1.6 percent of its GDP.

This summer, Washington rebuked Germany for its limited increases in NATO burden-sharing by moving thousands of American military personnel out of the country. Germany responded by announcing it would change the standard by which it evaluates its share of NATO contributions.

Maas also noted that he expects little progress on Iranian sanctions unless Biden makes significant adjustments to the United States’ treatment of Tehran.

“We won’t reach anything regarding Iran … if Europe and the U.S. have utterly different strategies,” Maas said. “There must be an end to this.”

Despite the Trump administration’s efforts to bring European allies into line with American defense policy, Germany remains one of the major roadblocks to a coalition-based approach to denuclearizing and demilitarizing Iran. An August United Nations vote on snapback sanctions failed to gain the support of Germany and other American allies in Europe, much to the chagrin of American lawmakers and policy experts.

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