Merkel: Germany Won’t Step Up Fight Against ISIS Even If NATO Does

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel does not plan on increasing the country’s commitment to the fight against the Islamic State even if NATO increases its commitment to the fight, she declared Thursday.

Merkel appeared with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who has indicated he is amenable to President Donald Trump’s insistence that the alliance increase its commitment to the U.S. led anti-ISIS effort.

Trump pushed Stoltenberg to “adapt to the challenges of the future” during his April 12 visit. “This includes upgrading NATO to focus on today’s most pressing security and all of its challenges, including migration and terrorism,” he continued.

NATO is reportedly considering establishing an office solely dedicated to counter-terrorism. NATO officials, however, are reluctant to commit to the post without agreement from allies that counter-terrorism should be a priority. They are also seeking extra funding for training initiatives.

“I want to state very clearly, that even if such a decision is made, it will not mean that any military activity that Germany currently carries out, for instance, AWACS surveillance, will be expanded or something like that,” Merkel emphatically declared. Germany only contributed approximately 150 troops to the anti-ISIS mission to train, advise, and assist forces according to an August 2016 Congressional Research Service report.

Trump also pressed Merkel to increase Germany’s contribution to NATO, saying in March he “reiterated to Chancellor Merkel our strong support for NATO, as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense.”

Merkel also indicated she would not join the U.S. or NATO in increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan. Both the U.S. and NATO are considering a proposal to increase the number of troops by nearly 13,000 to train, advise, and assist the Afghan National Security Forces in the fight against the Taliban.

Merkel drew a similar line in the sand demurring on sending more German troops to Afghanistan, saying, “I don’t think we’re first in line to expand our capacities there. It’s more important to ensure that … stability is guaranteed in the north.”

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