Merkel Warns Obama: Don't Do Electioneering Abroad!
09/07/2008 04:53:09 PM GMT
German Chancellor Angela Merkel slammed a request by Barack Obama to give a speech this month before the Brandenburg Gate as "inappropriate", her deputy spokesman said Wednesday.
The conservative leader said that while she would be pleased to meet the US Democratic presidential hopeful, it would be wrong for him to hold a "campaign rally" at the historic symbol of German unity.
"It is unusual to do electioneering abroad," spokesman Thomas Steg told reporters. "It is unusual to hold election rallies abroad. No German candidate for high office would even think of using the National Mall (in Washington) or Red Square in Moscow for a rally because it would not be seen as appropriate."
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In an unusual move, a spokesman for Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier sharply contradicted Merkel's views at a regular government press conference, saying they could be interpreted in the United States as an affront to Obama.
Foreign ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner said Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, was eager to meet Obama after speaking with him on the phone in April. Republican presidential contender John McCain should also be welcome to speak at the Brandenburg Gate if he chose to, he added.
"The foreign minister does not find it odd," he said, adding that an Obama speech at or near the site would be "an expression of the vital German-American friendship" just days after Washington opened a new embassy next to the gate.