Obama jets into Berlin for key foreign policy speech

July 24th, 2008 - 5:33 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Barack Obama
Berlin, July 24 (DPA) Presidential hopeful Barack Obama arrived in Berlin Thursday to make the key speech of an overseas tour aimed at enhancing his foreign policy credentials for the US electorate. The Democratic Party senator then travelled to central Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A small crowd had gathered outside the chancellor’s office as the talks between Obama and Merkel got underway.

Talks with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier are scheduled for the early afternoon.

Obama is to make a 45-minute address on transatlantic relations at an open air venue in the heart of Berlin, speaking under the city’s Victory Column to an expected crowd of tens of thousands in the early evening.

However, preparations for Obama’s speech were marred after a 40-year man driving a car breached the cordoned off zone where the US presidential candidate is to speak and sprayed red paint around the area.

The man from the German state of Baden Wuerttemberg is now in police custody, pending an investigation.

While Berlin was in Obama fever ahead of the visit, political commentators stressed that the main aim of the visit was to boost the senator’s fortunes in the US presidential race.

In his speech, Obama was expected to seek to revive transatlantic relations that suffered considerable damage under President George W. Bush.

Commentators were watching closely to discern calls for greater European contributions in Afghanistan and to hear the senator’s views on pressing Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment programme.

Obama is overwhelmingly more popular in Europe than his Republican adversary, John McCain. A recent poll put his German support at 76 percent.

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