The White House denied reports on Sunday that President Trump gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel a $374 billion invoice for money her country owed the US for NATO defense.
The Times of London published a story citing anonymous German officials who claimed Trump gave Merkel the bill during their meeting in Washington last week.
"No, this is not true," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said when Business Insider reached out to the White House for comment.
The Times reported that one German minister said the alleged exchange was "outrageous" and that "the concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations."
NATO members are supposed to contribute 2% of GDP to the treaty, though Germany only contributes 1.2%. The US, on the other hand, contributes 3.6% — almost double the requirement. Trump, like President Barack Obama before him, has demanded that NATO members pay their fair share.
Barack Obama and Angela Merkel's friendship
Barack Obama and Angela Merkel's friendship
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with U.S. President Barack Obama outside the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 8, 2015. Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations vowed at a summit in the Bavarian Alps on Sunday to keep sanctions against Russia in place until President Vladimir Putin and Moscow-backed separatists fully implement the terms of a peace deal for Ukraine. REUTERS/Michael Kappeler/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel upon his arrival at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama react as they try the virtual reality device PMD during the opening tour of the Hannover Messe in Hanover, Germany April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel prepare for a family photo during their meeting at the hotel castle Elmau in Kruen, Germany, June 7, 2015. Leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations met on Sunday in the Bavarian Alps for a summit overshadowed by Greece's debt crisis and ongoing violence in Ukraine. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel depart after a joint news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington May 2, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama (R) discuss before a meeting on the second day of the G20 Summit in Cannes November 4, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (FRANCE - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama embrace as they visit Kruen, southern Germany, June 7, 2015. Leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations meet on Sunday in the Bavarian Alps for a summit overshadowed by Greece's debt crisis and ongoing violence in Ukraine. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are pictured at the end of a joint news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin June 19, 2013.
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U.S. President Barack Obama toasts German Chancellor Angela Merkel at an official State Dinner in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, June 7, 2011. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
U.S. President Barack Obama welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) to the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, April 12, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to U.S. President Barack Obama during a private dinner at the 1789 restaurant in Washington June 6, 2011. REUTERS/Jesco Dezel/Bundesregierung/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) chats with US President Barack Obama during the opening of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, September 4, 2016. REUTERS/ Nicolas Asfonri/Pool
U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend the opening ceremony for Hannover Messe in Hanover, Germany April 24, 2016.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington June 7, 2011.
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After the meeting with Merkel, Trump doubled down on his desire for Germany to up its contribution. "Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!" the president tweeted on Saturday, March 18.
Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes.....
Trump has called NATO "obsolete" and long criticized allies for not contributing to defense spending and fighting terrorism, though NATO experts have countered that claim.
"After 9/11, NATO's main vocation became fighting terrorism in Afghanistan," Alexander Vershbow, the former deputy secretary general of NATO, told the New York Times in January. "It is now heavily engaged in training the militaries of many Middle Eastern countries to help them fight terrorism in their own backyard."
That sentiment was echoed by Trump's own defense secretary, retired Marine general James Mattis, in his testimony before Congress during his confirmation hearing. Mattis said at his hearing that NATO was essential to American safety and national security.
In its report claiming that Trump gave Merkel an invoice for NATO spending, the Times of London said the White House had arrived at the final figure of $374 billion by starting at 2002 and calculating "the extent to which German defense spending had fallen short of the 2% target each year, [adding] the amount together — and then [putting] interest on top."
A source close to Merkel who was cited by the Times was characterized as being "dismissive" of the alleged bill.
"The president has a very unorthodox view on NATO defense spending," the source said. "The alliance is not a club with a membership fee. The commitments relate to countries' investment in their defense budgets."
The report claims that Merkel ignored the "provocation." The German chancellor has committed, however, to higher defense spending by Germany.