Barack Obama arrives in Germany

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 14:49

Berlin: US President Barack Obama arrived on Wednesday on his first official visit designed to reaffirm his country`s strong commitment to trans-Atlantic partnership and close ties with Germany.

The discussions with Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to focus on the negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) between the US and the European Union and resolving the Syrian conflict.

The controversial US internet and telephone surveillance programme will also feature in the talks.

Obama flew into the German capital accompanied by his wife Michelle Obama and his two daughters after attending the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland for a day-long visit.

A main highlight of Obama`s visit will be a long-awaited address to around 6,000 hand-picked guests near the Brandenburg Gate, which once stood at the dividing line between East and West Berlin.

His speech has evoked memories of his predecessor, the late president John F Kennedy`s historic "ich bin ein Berliner" address in the divided city exactly 50 years ago and two years after the building up of the Berlin Wall.

In his address, Obama is expected to reaffirm the United States` adherence to trans-Atlantic partnership and to allay fears that a recent shift in US foreign policy focus towards the Asia Pacific region will not be at the cost of its close ties with Europe.

There is no public enthusiasm for Obama`s visit as in 2008, when he travelled to the city as the Democratic party presidential candidate and addressed over 200,000 jubilant crowd.

The visit is taking place amidst some of the most comprehensive security arrangements ever mounted in the city for a foreign dignitary. The airspace over Berlin was closed for all flights shortly before the presidential jet Air Force One approached the city and the route his motorcade took from the airport to his hotel was kept a closely guarded secret.

Meanwhile, several organisations are planning protest demonstrations against Obama`s failure to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, deployment of US combat drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan and US telephone and internet surveillance around the world.

Obama will begin his official engagements in the city by calling on German president Joachim Gauck.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom Obama met at the G-8 summit, will receive him shortly afterwards at the chancellery and afterwards they will hold discussions over a working lunch.


First Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 09:19

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