Merkel Backs Obama on Mideast

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2009 6:35 AM CDT
President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel smile after a visit at the Church of Our Lady, Frauenkirche, in Dresden, Germany.   (AP Photo/Franka Bruns)
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(Newser) – Angela Merkel got behind Barack Obama’s Middle East peace push today, calling his Cairo speech the “ideal basis” for renewed efforts. Obama called for “difficult compromises,” adding, “The United States cannot force peace upon the parties.” The two leaders met and spoke at a joint press conference in Dresden, in an event seemingly designed to thaw the reportedly frosty relations between them, the New York Times reports.

Though Obama is exceedingly popular in Germany, he has clashed with Merkel behind the scenes, disagreeing on issues like the economic crisis and Germany’s unwillingness to take on Guantanamo detainees. Asked about the rift, Obama joked that the world had enough problems without manufacturing new ones, adding, “Stop it!” The Dresden venue is fraught with symbolism; America’s fire bombing of the city at the close of World War II remains a sore spot in Germany.