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Merkel calls for joint efforts with Russia to battle Islamist terrorism
















MUNICH (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said Europe's ties with Russia remained challenging, but it was important to work with Russia in the fight against Islamist terrorism.

"The joint fight against Islamic terrorism is one area where we have the same interests and we can work together," Merkel said in a speech to the Munich Security Conference, where U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was in the audience.

Merkel, who has been critical of a U.S. ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, underscored that Islam itself was not the source of terrorism. She said it was critical to include Muslim countries in the fight against Islamist terrorism.

Germany, under increasing pressure by U.S. leaders to increase its military spending, would do "everything possible" meet a NATO target for spending 2 percent of economic output on defense by 2024, Merkel told the conference.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Noah Barkin)

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