Obama to stress partnership with Europe in Germany speech

Update: April, 25/2016 - 11:52
US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend the Hanover Industry Fair on Sunday. AFP/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

HANOVER, GermanyBarack Obama will set out his vision of relations with Europe with a speech in the northern German city of Hanover today, trying to frame a relationship that has been less than easy throughout his presidency.

With the end of his administration in sight, Obama will stress the issues that Europe and America have tackled together, from Syria to trade, Iraq to climate change.

Obama started his presidency with Europeans revelling in a less hardline approach to foreign policy than they saw under his predecessor George Bush.

Since then Obama’s star has dimmed, but aides see the speech as an opportunity to reflect his 2008 speech in Berlin, when as a presidential candidate he described a need for a self-sustaining partnership.

Obama has pressed allies on the need for European powers to bolster their own defence operations, which still shelter under a US umbrella.

" (The) speech will be an opportunity to discuss joint US-European efforts to confront a range of challenges, including countering ISIL, the current refugee crisis, Ukraine, and the headwinds in the global economy," said a US official.

"The president will discuss the progress made on these issues over the past few years, and outline the additional work to be done moving forward."

Turning to Syria, Obama will announce he will send up to 250 more troops to the country to augment the train and assist mission, according to a senior administration official.

That announcement comes as European allies, including his host Angela Merkel, scramble to try and limit the refugee flow into Europe and blood flow in Syria.

US troops in Syria are mandated to advise and assist Syrian rebel and anti-Islamic State forces.

Close allies  

On Sunday, the first day of his visit to Germany, Obama made a pitch for transatlantic trade.

"Angela and I agree that the United States and the European Union need to keep moving forward with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations," Obama said, referring to vast EU-US trade agreement in the making.

He called for the agreement to be sealed before the end of the year.

Both Obama and his host Merkel hope the pact will provide a shot in the arm to Western economies.

"As you see other markets like China beginning to develop and Asia beginning to develop and Africa growing fast, we have to make sure our businesses can compete," Obama said.

Merkel echoed that sentiment, saying the deal would be "extremely helpful" for growth in Europe.

"It is good for the German economy, it is good for the European economy," she said.

But in a sign of differences, Obama felt the need to underline his longstanding opposition to establishing a safe zone in Syria, something European countries have discussed to stem the flow of migrants.

"Sadly, it is very difficult to see how it would operate short of us essentially being willing to militarily take over a big chunk of that country," he said. — AFP