Obama draws praise in Germany


Barack Obama's speech to a huge Berlin crowd sent a "positive signal" to Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said Friday, praising the Democratic presidential candidate's focus on working with U.S. partners.

Obama addressed more than 200,000 people at the capital's Victory Column on Thursday evening after meeting Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the first leg of a three-country European tour.

German newspapers lauded the speech. "Prince America embraces Berlin" was the headline in the capital's B-Z tabloid across a full page photo of Obama. "He was celebrated like a pop star," said the top-selling Bild.

"From the point of view of the chancellor and the government, the speech is a positive signal for Europe and to Europe," Merkel spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm told reporters. Obama "underlined the fact that the challenges of the 21st century can only be tackled together, only in international cooperation &

that corresponds with the German government's position."

Wilhelm said the priorities Obama named matched those of Germany.

"A common resolution of international conflicts, a common fight against climate change, a clear initiative on the question of disarmament, dealing with the challenges of international terrorism &

all these questions can no longer be resolved by one country alone, but only in close international cooperation that also involves international organization," Wilhelm said.

Still, the Democratic candidate's speech also pointed to possible trans-Atlantic tensions over missions in Afghanistan and elsewhere under the next U.S. president. Obama declared that "Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more &

not less" on security.

Germany has more than 3,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, mostly in the relatively peaceful north. Although it plans to increase its contingent and has taken over a quick reaction force in the north, it has repeatedly resisted pressure from its NATO partners to send troops to the volatile south.

"We have repeatedly made clear that ... we are doing what we can with the means we have," Wilhelm said. "I see no shortcomings as far as Germany's commitment is concerned."

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