Wednesday, July 9, 2008

MERKEL TELLS OBAMA TO KEEP HIS CAMPAIGNING AT HOME

Agence France Presse 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. "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."

Authorities in the capital have confirmed that Obama plans to visit Berlin on July 24 and is interested in speaking at the foot of the Brandenburg Gate.

The left-leaning government of the city-state, which has the sole right to approve such a request, has not yet made a formal decision but Mayor Klaus Wowereit gave his backing Tuesday.

Steg said Merkel. . . found the Obama team's initiative "a bit odd". But he said it was up to candidates such as Obama to decide what was "in good taste".

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