DRESDEN, Germany – Were you under the impression that relations between the United States and Germany have been a bit frosty since President Barack Obama took office?
That Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn’t trust Obama because he went to Germany during his election campaign and cozied up to her opposition?
Or that Obama was offended by her refusal to let him deliver his big Berlin speech last year at the Brandenburg Gate, so he returned the snub by refusing to go to Berlin on this trip?
Well pish, posh. You’ve clearly been reading wildly speculative media reports.
“They are very wild and based on no facts,” Obama told a news conference Friday standing next to Merkel.
“The truth of the matter … is that the relationship, not only between our two countries but our two governments, is outstanding,” he added.
And Merkel’s assessment? Working with Obama is fun, in an analytical sort of way.
“Allow me, if I may, to … say that it’s fun to work together with the American president because very serious, very thorough analytical discussions very often lead us to draw the same conclusions,” she said.
Since they get along so well, why did Obama not travel to Berlin on this visit?
Simple matter of logistics. He was going to Dresden, going to Buchenwald, traveling to a U.S. air base and had to be in Normandy the following day for D-Day celebrations.
“There are only 24 hours in the day. And so there’s nothing to any of that speculation beyond us just trying to fit in what we could do on such a short trip. That’s all that there was,” Obama said.
A day after he spoke boldly to the Muslim world in a speech from Cairo, the U.S. president found himself boldly speaking again — this time to journalist speculators.
“So stop it. All of you,” he said, drawing titters from the assembled reporters. “I know you have to find something to report on, but we have more than enough problems out there without manufacturing problems.”
Speaking of those problems, what about those Guantanamo prisoners Germany had said it would take?
“Chancellor Merkel has been very open to discussions with us,” Obama said. “We have not asked her for hard commitments, and she has not given us any hard commitments beyond having a serious discussion about are there ways that we can solve this problem.”
Washington submitted a formal request in early May for Germany to take some Guantanamo prisoners.
“There are talks going on,” Merkel told the news conference, “and at the very end I am absolutely confident that we will find a common solution.”
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Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Merkel listens to Obama during news conference; Merkel, Obama tour Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady) in Dresden)