WASHINGTON (AP) — Opening a day focused on both policy and pomp, President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed the relationship between their nations as the cornerstone of efforts to promote peace and prosperity around the world.
The president greeted Merkel as she arrived at the White House on a warm and muggy Tuesday morning in Washington. Dozens of schoolchildren waving U.S. and German flags were among the crowd gathered on the South Lawn for the elaborate arrival ceremony.
Obama said Merkel's visit reaffirmed the "indispensable" bond between the U.S. and Germany.
"Germany, at the heart of Europe, is one of our strongest allies," Obama said. "And Chancellor Merkel is one of my closest global partners."
Merkel noted that Obama, as a candidate for the White House, spoke to more than 200,000 people in Berlin and proclaimed that America has no better partner than Europe. "Now it's my turn," Merkel said. "Europe and Germany have no better partner than America."
Merkel's visit is her sixth trip to the United States since Obama took office. The relationship between the two leaders is cordial but not close. Among the weighty issues they will tackle in meetings at the White House Tuesday include NATO operations in Afghanistan and Libya, the Middle East peace process and the world economy.