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On Final Presidential Visit To Germany, Obama Warmly Endorses Merkel

  • RFE/RL

U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel upon his arrival at the chancellery in Berlin on November 17.

U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel upon his arrival at the chancellery in Berlin on November 17.

U.S. President Barack Obama warmly endorsed German Chancellor Angela Merkel, telling reporters that she has has been an oustanding partner who engages with the world.

The comments from Obama came on November 17 as he paid his sixth and final visit to Germany as president.

"All I can say is that Chancellor Merkel has been an outstanding partner, and Chancellor Merkel is perhaps the only leader left among our closest allies that was there when I arrived," he said.

Relations between Berlin and Washington have improved markedly under Obama, following disagreements with his predecessor, George W. Bush, over the Iraq war and other policies.

Relations were also strained by disclosures that U.S. intelligence agencies had spied on German communications and tapped Merkel’s cell phone.

Obama's comments also come amid growing speculation that Merkel will seek a fourth term in elections next year.

Many in Germany expect her to run. Despite an erosion of support due in part to criticism of her immigration policies, her party, the Christian Democrats, is expected to remain the largest bloc in parliament.

But Merkel, asked by reporters if she would stand for reelection, demurred.

Merkel also said Germany was prepared to increase its military spending. Obama has chided Germany and other alliance members in the past for not meeting their obligations to commit at least 2 percent of GDP to defense spending.

Germany spent about 1.2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense last year.

"We got the message and have started to react," Merkel told reporters.

President-elect Donald Trump also pressed NATO allies during his election campaign and suggested the United States might back away from the alliance if they don't increase spending.

Obama was scheduled to meet on November 18 with leaders of France, Italy, Spain, and Britain to discuss transatlantic relations after Trump's election.

He then is scheduled to travel to Peru, where he will participate in a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and dpa
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