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Scheduled for June: Obama to Make First Berlin Visit as President

By in Washington

Obama will visit the German capital in June for the first time since 2008, when he spoke to a crowd of some 200,000 as a presidential candidate, shown here. Zoom
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Obama will visit the German capital in June for the first time since 2008, when he spoke to a crowd of some 200,000 as a presidential candidate, shown here.

He's finally coming. SPIEGEL has learned that US President Barack Obama will make an official state visit to Berlin in June -- just one week before the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.

United States President Barack Obama has taken his time in making an official state visit to Berlin -- but in about two months it will finally happen. According to current White House plans, he will visit the city directly after the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, which takes place on June 19 and 20, SPIEGEL has learned.

The visit should finally iron out an ongoing crimp in German-American relations. It was a source of irritation in Berlin that, despite several personal invitations from Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama had not found time to come. As president, he visited Baden-Baden and Kehl in 2009 as part of a NATO summit trip and later made stops in Weimar, Dresden and at a US military base in Landstuhl -- but not in the German capital, where, as a presidential candidate in 2008, he drew more than 200,000 people to his speech at Berlin's Victory Column.

But the choice of dates also means that Obama will not be present on June 26, the 50th anniversary of the famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech of his predecessor, John F. Kennedy. The White House wasn't willing to plan a second European trip so soon after the summit in Northern Ireland.

Controversy Remembered

It is also deemed unlikely that Obama's visit will include a speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Some say that would bring back too many memories of the controversy over the location of his 2008 speech. Back then, Merkel balked at the idea of a US presidential candidate speaking publicly in front of one of Germany's most important monuments. It's conceivable, however, that Obama will appear elsewhere in Berlin to give a speech on a subject of particular importance to him, such as the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

As of now, the American president will not be making a stop in Brussels, though a detour to the European Union capital had been advised for the purpose of helping along negotiations of a transatlantic free trade agreement between the EU and the US. But apparently the White House considered a visit to Germany to be of greater importance.

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