Tensions Mit Merkel?

Jun 2, 2009 5:50pm

Days before President Obama visits Germany, Der Spiegel reports that
the visit “is creating friction between Barack Obama and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democrats
(CDU)”

Between his speech to the Muslim world to be delivered Thursday in
Cairo, Egypt, and his visit on Saturday to Normandy to commemorate the
65th anniversary of D-Day, the president will be visiting Dresden and
Weimar. He will be visiting US troops at the US military bases in
Ramstein and Landstuhl, and taking in Buchenwald, the former
concentration camp that his great uncle Charlie Payne helped liberate
while serving in the 89th Infantry Division during World War II.

Spiegel suggests that President Obama is insulting Merkel by not
coming by Berlin, the capital.

In addition, Spiegel reports, the “White House has so far blocked the
wishes of the German government, which would like to see the president
appear side-by-side with Merkel and local dignitaries and attract
massive publicity during his stops in Dresden and Weimar. With support
of the Chancellery, Thuringia Governor Dieter Althaus and Saxony
Governor Stanislaw Tillich, both members of Merkel's CDU party,
suggested that Obama appear at Dresden's Zwinger Palace museum complex
and Weimar's Anna Amalia Library and to mix with crowds in both
cities. But Obama's advance team rejected the suggestions, SPIEGEL has
learned.”

Spiegel says that French President Nicolas Sarkozy poked fun at his
German counterpart, saying, "Merkel can't even host the US president
in the capital city. I can meet him in Normandy and in Paris."

The White House would not comment on the Spiegel report except to
suggest that European media often get basic facts wrong in reporting
on President Obama.

On a conference call, National Security Council spokesman Denis
McDonough was asked why President Obama chose Dresden as a place to
overnight.

“Obviously the President has a lot of respect for the Chancellor,”
McDonough said. “I think that he, from his early conversations with
her, was struck by her time in the former East, and so I think he
looks forward to an opportunity to see the major changes in the former
East, but also to, as I said, harken back to certain undeniable truths
and undeniable realities specifically as it relates to the Holocaust.”

- jpt

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