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Americas

Obama welcomes Merkel for White House talks

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-26

US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed unrest in Iran, the economic crisis, climate change and the possibility of relocating Guantanamo inmates to Germany at the White House on Friday.

AFP - US President Barack Obama held his first White House talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday in the latest of a flurry of meetings between the leaders dogged by reports of disagreements.
  
Obama and top aides have repeatedly denied suggestions that Merkel and Obama -- who met earlier this month in Dresden, and also held talks in April -- differ on issues like reviving the global economy.
  
"They are very wild and based on no facts," Obama said of the reports, when the two leaders held a joint press conference together in Dresden.
  
Merkel drove up to the West Wing of the White House before a half hour of private talks with Obama. The meeting was to be thrown open to expanded delegations after the private session.
  
The two leaders were then scheduled to hold a press conference, moved inside from the White House Rose Garden due to threatening weather, and have lunch.
  
Merkel told reporters the talks would focus on Iran, the Middle East, climate change, the upcoming G20 economic crisis meeting in Pittsburgh in September and Obama's visit to Russia next month.
  
"I am looking forward to the meeting with the President, (our relationship) is becoming one of intense, and friendly cooperation," Merkel said.
  
"Our positions on the world’s problems are very close and we want to work together to find common solutions."
  
"On each issue, Germany will do its part so that we can reach a solution."
  
"We want to find answers to these problems together with the United States."
  
The White House talks will also attempt to forge common ground ahead of the Group of Eight summit of leading industrialized nations in Italy in July.
  
The world's most powerful economies are due to put forward proposals for financial markets and seek concerted efforts to combat global warming, ahead of world climate talks later this year.
  
Merkel arrived in Washington on Thursday, the eve of a crucial vote in the US House of Representatives on a climate bill that forms a centerpiece of Obama's sweeping domestic agenda.
  
The president called on lawmakers to not be "afraid of the future" and to vote for the bill, which cuts US greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of what is looking like a tight vote.
  
The Obama administration would have liked to secure a greater German contribution to its new strategy to flush out Taliban and Al-Qaeda remnants in Afghanistan, but aides say they are aware of Merkel's political limitations.
  
But the war is highly unpopular in Germany, and Merkel, with elections looming later this year, cannot afford to buck public opinion.
  
Merkel has been critical of US strategy on the economic meltdown, and has expressed fears that tactics like the 787 billion dollars US stimulus package will stoke inflation.
  
The chancellor's advisors say she would like Obama to lay out an "exit strategy" after his massive spending to fight the crisis. They note that she had long warned of the danger of Wall Street excess and loose regulation.
  
She also criticized the US Federal Reserve this month, urging a return "to a policy of common sense" and slammed the Fed's massive buy-up of government and private debt.
  
Asked about the "exit strategy" idea on Thursday, Gibbs said Obama was still concentrating on the crisis, which has cut a swathe of unemployment across the United States.
  
"We're making progress, but I think the President is still focused on ensuring the quick implementation of the recovery legislation and the continued monitoring of different aspects of our recovery.
  
"I think the President believes there's work left to be done."
  
Merkel has been vague in her pledges to help Obama close the Guantanamo Bay anti-terror prison.
  
She again promised assistance in Dresden, but her government has resisted two US requests for Germany to take in specific detainees, citing a lack of information from Washington.
  
Analysts say that Obama's task in persuading European allies to take Guantanamo Bay prisoners has been complicated by opposition among US lawmakers to bringing prisoners to the United States.
  
The chancellor in Dresden dismissed talk of a rift with Obama, saying it was "fun" to work with him.

Date created : 2009-06-26

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