June 19 - Speaking in front of the Brandenburg Gate, which once divided communist East Berlin from the capitalist West, President Obama said he wanted to reduce deployed nuclear weapons by a third. The U.S. and EU free trade deal was also on agenda as he met with Chancellor Merkel. Joanna Partridge reports.
He was greeted like a rock star when he last visited Berlin, back when he was plain old Barack Obama. Five years on, the President of the United States faced a slightly chillier reception. Obama arrived fresh from the G8 summit in northern Ireland. He made the key speech of his visit to around 4000 invited guests in front of the Brandenburg Gate, which once divided communist East Berlin and the capitalist West. Obama's visit comes almost exactly 50 years after John F. Kennedy's famous speech. And he seized on the Cold War theme. SOUNDBITE: U.S. PRESIDENT, BARACK OBAMA, SAYING (English): "After a comprehensive review I have determined that we can ensure the security of America and her allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, which reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one third. I intend to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures" Earlier in the day, Obama and Merkel discussed the EU - U.S. free trade talks, launched at the G8 summit. SOUNDBITE: U.S. PRESIDENT, BARACK OBAMA, SAYING (English): "Overall, Germany is our largest trading partner in the EU so we've got a profound stake in each other's success. We agree that there is more work to do. Not only do we have to grow but we also have to reform our economies structurally." Back in 2008, when he was still a senator, Merkel turned down Obama's request to speak at the Brandenburg Gate. German media have made much of the fact it has taken Obama four and a half years to make his first presidential trip to the capital. On the other hand, Merkel has been preoccupied for the past three years with the financial crisis in Europe. Manfred Goertemaker is a history professor at Potsdam University. SOUNDBITE: Manfred Goertemaker, Historical Professor at Potsdam University, saying (English): "The relationship is no longer a matter of course, as it was during the Cold War, when neither of us had alternatives. But it is the case, when you analyse matters in a sober way, which Obama will certainly do, that he'll realise that just like before, Europe is important for America, and Germany has a leading role in Europe. In that respect, he's well-advised to come to Germany and do something for this relationship. Perhaps he could have come earlier, during his first term. It's now relatively late, but not too late." Merkel's team hope the visit will give her a boost in the run-up to an election in September, when she'll be fighting for a third term.