Obama to meet Merkel's main rival in Berlin
BERLIN, Germany - US President Barack Obama will also meet Angela Merkel's chief opposition rival in upcoming elections as well as the German chancellor and president during his visit next week to Berlin, the government announced on Friday, June 14.
Obama, who is due in the German capital from late Tuesday, June 18, with his wife Michelle after attending a G8 summit in Northern Ireland, will meet Peer Steinbrueck, the center-left Social Democrats' (SPD) candidate for chancellor.
Three months from elections, polls indicate that the SPD is trailing by around 20 points Merkel's conservatives.
Merkel will receive Obama on Wednesday, June 19, morning at the chancellery, followed by a joint press conference and private lunch, with a dinner hosted by Merkel and her husband Joachim Sauer at Charlottenburg Palace later, a government spokesman said.
Syria, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Iran's nuclear program and the US' recently revealed Internet surveillance program will feature on the agenda of the meeting, Steffen Seibert told reporters.
Obama is also scheduled to meet German President Joachim Gauck.
He confirmed Obama would deliver a speech at the iconic Brandenburg Gate where Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit and Merkel will briefly also address invited guests, to include representatives from political and economic circles, as well as school and university students.
A security clampdown had already been imposed on Friday around Pariser Platz, the square in front of the Brandenburg Gate, ahead of the visit.
The speech by Obama, who is making his first visit to Berlin as US president, will come nearly 50 years to the day after John F. Kennedy's famed "Ich bin ein Berliner" address, two years after the erection of the Berlin Wall.
In 2008, while still a presidential candidate, Obama addressed an estimated crowd of 200,000 people in an open-air speech before the Victory Column in Berlin. - Rappler.com