Obama discusses German / U.S. relations and Libya in Tagesspiegel exclusive

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WASHINGTON–Christoph von Marschall, the White House Correspondent FOR “Der Tagesspiegel,” in Berlin and the author of books about President Obama and First Lady Michelle, had a wide ranging interview with Obama before the arrival of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama was hoping going into the Merkel meetings to get more help from Germany for the NATO strike force in Libya.

UPSHOT: On Tuesday, at an Obama/Merkel joint press conference, Obama thanked Germany for stepping up to do more once in the air waged against Libian Leader Moammar] Kadafi works.

von Marschall in his Obama exclusive asks, ” Where could Germany do better in taking global responsibility and being a leader? Germany has been criticized for not taking part in Nato’s operation in Libya. How does such an experience change your relationship with Angela Merkel? One consequence seems to be that Germany does not take part in military consultations?”

“Said Obama, “Germany is already a global leader and we are in constant contact with one other to coordinate our efforts. Germany has some 7,000 troops deployed in several different operations around the world, so it is making a significant contribution to international peace and security. We especially appreciate its contributions to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, where Germany provides some 5,000 troops, making it the third largest national contingent. In addition, Germany commands the entire northern region, heads two Provincial Reconstruction Teams, and provides the logistical support base for all ISAF forces in the area, including several thousand U.S. troops. Of course, this mission does not come without sacrifice, and our hearts go out to the families of the more than 50 German soldiers who have given their lives, including several in recent weeks, to help keep our countries safe.”

“On Libya, there is no harder decision to make than whether or not to commit one’s military men and women to armed conflict. We appreciate Germany’s support for NATO operations in all theatres, from the Balkans to Afghanistan, off the Horn of Africa and in Libya. As a member of NATO, Germany is part of NATO’s command structure and makes meaningful contributions to all NATO operations. I also want to commend Germany for recently deploying its AWACS surveillance planes to Afghanistan in order to free up other NATO members’ pilots and aircraft for the NATO operation in Libya. I would also note that Germany is playing an important role in responding to the democratic transitions that are underway in North Africa. I look forward to discussing with the Chancellor how we can enhance our work together to more effectively address the changes underway in the region, including in Libya.”

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