Merkel Meets With Obama, Addresses Congress 


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German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Washington to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall by addressing a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.  Ms. Merkel met earlier with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Before meeting with Mr. Obama in the Oval Office, Chancellor Merkel  told reporters she wanted to thank the U.S. for its support for German unification.

"I wanted to use this opportunity today to express our gratitude, my gratitude to the American people for the support that the American people have given us throughout the process leading to German reunification," she said.

Ms. Merkel is the first German leader to speak before a joint meeting of Congress, and the first to address the House or Senate since Konrad Adenauer in 1957.

President Obama says the honor is particularly meaningful for the first native of the former East Germany to lead a unified Germany.

"This is a special moment for Chancellor Merkel, as somebody who grew up in East Germany, who understands what it is like to be under the shadow of a dictatorial regime, and to see how freedom has bloomed in Germany," the president said.

The president thanked Ms. Merkel for Germany's contributions to the NATO military force in Afghanistan, although the United States wants Germany and other NATO partners to add more troops to the effort.

"We appreciate the sacrifices of German soldiers in Afghanistan, and our common work there to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, and to create the environment in which the Afghan people themselves can provide for their own security," said Mr. Obama.

The two leaders also discussed the nuclear situation in Iran, the world economy and global efforts to fight climate change,

After meeting with the German chancellor, Mr. Obama was to take part in the U.S.-European Union summit at the White House.  The president said Germany has become the centerpiece for a extraordinarily strong European Union.  

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