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Published: Friday, 5/10/2013

Germany says Obama to visit Berlin in June

President Barack Obama turns around and pauses before entering his car at Austin Bergstrom International Airport. President Barack Obama turns around and pauses before entering his car at Austin Bergstrom International Airport.

BERLIN — President Barack Obama will visit Berlin next month for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on his first visit to the German capital since taking office, her spokesman said Friday.

Obama will be in Berlin June 18-19, said Georg Streiter, a spokesman for Merkel. Details of the visit have yet to be worked out, but Merkel is looking forward to talks on “a wide spectrum of bilateral and global questions,” he told reporters.

Obama will be traveling in Europe at that time following a G-8 summit in Northern Ireland on June 17-18, a meeting that reunites the leaders of the world’s major western industrialized nations.

The visit to Berlin will be Obama’s first official trip to the German capital since he took office in 2009. However, he did meet Merkel in Germany twice in his first year as president — first visiting the southwestern town of Baden-Baden as part of a trip to a NATO summit, then visiting the eastern city of Dresden and the former Buchenwald concentration camp.

Obama made a major campaign speech in Berlin before his 2008 election which drew a crowd of more than 200,000. At the time, Merkel refused to let Obama — then the Democratic presidential candidate — speak in front of the city’s historic Brandenburg Gate, saying only sitting presidents were granted such an honor. He spoke at a nearby monument instead.

When Obama presented Merkel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, Merkel hinted it might be different next time, saying: “I can promise that the Brandenburg Gate will be standing for some more time.”

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, has led the response to Europe’s debt crisis yet its austerity-heavy approach has drawn criticism abroad. Washington has been a leading advocate of doing more to boost global demand.

Obama’s visit comes ahead of German parliamentary elections on Sept. 22 in which the conservative Merkel will seek a third four-year term.

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