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German minister says NATO allies to invest more 'in coming years'

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday she could understand the U.S. call for NATO partners to step up funding for the transatlantic alliance and European allies would meet their obligations “in the coming years”.

The United States for years has called for European allies to spend 2 percent of their economic output on defense, and the new U.S. President Donald Trump has unnerved German politicians by describing the NATO alliance as obsolete.

“We Europeans, we Germans, we have to do more for our own security, we have to invest more there,” Leyen told ARD public television.

She said it was “really not fair” that the United States was doing twice as much for security than all European countries together.

“So in this respect, the Americans are right when they would like to hear from us how we show convincingly how we can meet the 2-percent-goal in the NATO in the coming years,” she said.

Trump’s defense secretary has warned NATO allies that they must honor military spending pledges to ensure Washington does not “moderate” support for the alliance.

On his debut trip to Brussels as Pentagon chief, Jim Mattis stopped short of issuing an explicit ultimatum or say how the United States might moderate its support. But he added that NATO allies must show progress in 2017 and adopt a plan, with target dates, toward defense spending goals.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber, editing by Bernard Orr