Romanian president: Government short-changing defense budget

Romania's president is criticizing the government for devoting too little money to defense in the proposed budget for 2017, saying national security needs to be a priority.

President Klaus Iohannis said Thursday in a letter to Premier Sorin Grindeanu that the government should respect a cross-party commitment to spend 2 percent of the gross domestic product on defense.

Iohannis says a draft budget due Friday shows the government plans to allocate 1.5 percent of the GDP to the defense ministry.

Romania's president is in charge of national security. Iohannis says reducing security spending would be "a grave error."

There was no immediate reaction from the government.

NATO has asked member countries to spend 2 percent on defense, although many spend less.

Iohannis is a critic of the center-left government.