Peace protesters form human chain outside German parliament

BERLIN (AP) — Hundreds of peace protesters formed a human chain outside Germany’s parliament Saturday, urging disarmament and an end to weapons exports.

About 300 people formed the chain stretching from the parliament building to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s nearby office, the dpa news agency reported.

The demonstration, organized under the motto “Peace, not armaments,” came as the German government prepares to approve its budget proposals for the next two years, which include hefty defense spending.

Protesters carried signs with slogans such as “No killer drones” and “Achieve peace without weapons.”

German Trade Union Confederation President Reiner Hoffmann told the protest crowd it was time for the country to back away from the NATO commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defense.

“We need to break the armament spiral,” he told the crowd. “Armaments and armed conflicts don’t solve any problems.”

Germany has been criticized by the United States for not meeting the 2% NATO goal, but Berlin has pledged to work toward it and has been increasing defense spending.

At an unrelated demonstration elsewhere in Germany, police turned water cannons on protesters in a snowy forest between the western cities of Frankfurt and Kassel.

Environmental activists have been demonstrating regularly against the planned expansion of the A49 highway.

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