Development aid cannot be part of defense spending: NATO's Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference during a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A country’s spending on development aid and on defense are separate items, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday, responding to German comments about NATO’s target for increasing military budgets.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel had said on Thursday that it was not realistic for Germany to spend 2 percent of its economic output on defense and that other spending, such as development aid, should be taken into consideration.

“Diplomacy, development aid, economic cooperation can be important to help stabilize a region,” Stoltenberg told a news conference in Brussels.

“We have international targets, guidelines, for development aid, 0.7 percent of GDP and then we have a NATO agreement on moving toward 2 percent. But those are two different things, even though both are important,” he added.

“It is not either development or security, it is development and security and the foundation of development is to have peace and security.”

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop