BERLIN, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) Martin Schulz said on Monday that if elected he might not meet the U.S. demand on increasing defense spending.
Schulz, who is seen as a major center-left challenger to Chancellor Angela Merkel in the September parliamentary election, questioned the government's promises made earlier this year saying Germany will gradually meet the mandated defense spending for NATO, namely 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
U.S. President Donald Trump once called the military alliance "obsolete" and threatened to "moderate" its commitment if NATO partners fail to pay their share.
"I don't take the view that there was an agreement among the NATO members we have to reach the goal of spending 2 percent of our GDP on armament," Schulz said in a meeting with the foreign press.
"What we need is not an arms race but disarmament initiatives. German social democracy has always put an emphasis on disarmament," he added.
Berlin currently spends around 1.2 percent of GDP on defense, and has to increase its budget by an additional 23 billion euros (24.36 billion U.S. dollars) to reach the NATO target.