Obama embracing ally Merkel on farewell trip to Germany

April 24, 2016 11:40 am
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Both leaders have an approach to politics that is heavily analytical, leading aides to talk about a relationship that is cerebral and without comparison/AFP
Both leaders have an approach to politics that is heavily analytical, leading aides to talk about a relationship that is cerebral and without comparison/AFP

, LONDON, United Kingdom, Apr 24 – Barack Obama makes a valedictory visit to Germany on Sunday at the invitation of Angela Merkel, a leader who has become his primary European interlocutor and political kindred spirit.

Obama will jet in to Hanover for a final bilateral visit to a country that has long been Europe’s biggest economy, but has in modern times punched below its weight politically, diplomatically and militarily.

Overview
  • During Obama's seven years in office, that dynamic has changed, with the US president making the German chancellor, among European leaders at least, first among equals.
  • Both leaders have an approach to politics that is heavily analytical, leading aides to talk about a relationship that is cerebral and without comparison.
  • "I consider Angela one of my closest partners and also a friend," Obama told the Bild newspaper, laying on the compliments on the eve of his trip.

During Obama’s seven years in office, that dynamic has changed, with the US president making the German chancellor, among European leaders at least, first among equals.

Both leaders have an approach to politics that is heavily analytical, leading aides to talk about a relationship that is cerebral and without comparison.

“I consider Angela one of my closest partners and also a friend,” Obama told the Bild newspaper, laying on the compliments on the eve of his trip.

“I’ve worked with her longer and closer than any other world leader, and over the years I’ve learned from her,” he said.

“She embodies many of the leadership qualities I admire most. She’s guided by both interests and values.”

Today, while the United States has a “special relationship” with Britain and France is America’s “oldest ally”, Germany has become Washington’s “indispensable partner”.

Obama is ostensibly visiting to attend the Hannover Messe, a trade fair that underscores Germany’s commercial prowess.

He will touch down at 12:40pm (1040 GMT), jetting in from London for a two-day visit that kicks off with talks with Merkel, a joint press conference and a trip to the trade fair Sunday.

It will wrap up Monday with a keynote speech and a meeting with Merkel and the leaders of France, Germany and Britain.

For Obama, the trip will be an opportunity to burnish his legacy and politically embrace Merkel, whose fortunes at home have been hit by her handling of the migration crisis.

Critics say her openness to refugees only sped the vast flow of people coming from Syria and beyond.

“I believe that Chancellor Merkel’s approach to the refugee crisis – and that of many Germans – has been courageous,” Obama said, voicing an opinion heard less often in Germany than Merkel would like.

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