German Chancellor Beginning Official Visit to US

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 8:55 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama formally welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House Tuesday for an official visit that will include both pomp and politics.

Ms. Merkel's one-day visit will start with a 19-gun salute on the White House South Lawn and end with an elaborate black-tie dinner. She is scheduled to attend a luncheon with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor.

During their talks Tuesday, Mr. Obama and Ms. Merkel are likely to discuss topics such as the Eurozone debt crisis, the wars in Afghanistan and Libya, as well as debates over who should replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as the new IMF chief, a position traditionally held by Europeans.

Ms. Merkel's visit comes as Europe confronts an E. coli outbreak that has so far killed at least 22 people and sickened thousands. The visit also follows Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power plants by 2022.

Though ties between the two countries are amiable, Ms. Merkel and Mr. Obama got off to a rocky start back in 2008 when the German leader turned down a request from the then U.S.-presidential hopeful to speak in front of the Brandenburg Gate. And although he has visited Germany twice since taking office, Mr. Obama has not yet made an official visit to Berlin.