Friday, June 26, 2009

Obama and Merkel News Conference June 26

Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel met this morning in the Oval office ahead of the G8 summit next week.
Ahead of the video, which I'll post later if it comes available, is some of what he and Merkel said--PARAPHRASED:
Discussed the tragic situation in Iran. They talked about the peoples' bravery. He said we see the violence and we condemn it. They discussed Iran's nuclear program.
They discussed the Middle East.
We agreed on confronting extremism in Aghanistan and Pakistan
They talked about working with the Russian government to advance common interests such as reducing nuclear arsenals.
Today, challenges can't be met by one nation going it alone.
Iranian people need to be given the rights to peaceful demonstrations and votes recounted. The Iranian nuclear program needs to stop.
They talked about climate and the economy. The bill in the House means the U.S. is serious about climate, she said. It's an enormous success that I wouldn't have thought possible a year ago.
They take questions:
NYT: Have you changed your view on Mousavi and Ahmandinejad and will you apologize to Ahmadinejad for meddling (what?)
Obama said given the structure of the power of the government and the power residing with Khamenei, we could not automatically assume there could be a huge shift on those security issues. What's clear over the course of days, Mousavi has shown to capture the imagination and the spirit of forces within Iran who want to open up. He represents people on the streets. I continue to believe Iranians need to decide who their leaders are going to be. A govt. that treats their citizens with such violence and can't deal with peaceful protestors has moved outside of universal norms. Merkel and I share the believe the violence is unacceptable.
On the apology: I don't take Ahmadinejad's statements seriously about apologies given the fact that the U.S. has gone out of its way to not meddle. Ahmadinejad needs to think about the obligations he owes to his own people.
On Gitmo: We are going to be looking for the help of our friends and allies as we close Guantanamo that is going to be difficult politically. The EU gave a legal framework of how to evaluate Gitmo detainees. The specifics are still preliminary. Merkel has an obligation to make sure Germany's interests come first. We will continue to have constructive discussions.
Merkel has not made commitments of that sort. Conversation has been general.

Merkel: We aren't going to shirk our responsibility.

Q on dialogue with Iran and what about Iraq deadline:
We are still waiting to see how the situation in Iran plays out. I continue to call on the Iranian govt. to deal with people peacefully. There is no doubt that direct dialogue or diplomacy will be effected by the events of the last several weeks. We don't know how any potential dialogue will be affected. The clock is ticking. Iran's nuke program is moving along. We have to be steady in recognizing that Iran with a nuke is a big problem. We have to work with international community to prevent that from happening. We will see multilateral discussions with Iran. The direct dialogue between the U.S. and Iran we'll have to see how that plays out in days and weeks ahead.
On Iraq, we are concerned about the bombing in Iraq. If you look at the overall trend, despite the high profile bombings, security continues to approve. Still some work to do with Maliki govt. I haven't seen as much political progress as I would've like to seen. There continues to be violence in Iraq but the bigger challenge is can the Shia, Sunni and the Kurds work together.
On Iran, we've seen horrifying scenes. We will do everything to identify the victims. Iran can't count on the world community turning a blind eye. Iran can't gain nukes. I completely agree with the president--we need to bring Russia and China in on this.

Merkel shakes her head as a German reporter asks why Obama hasn't give an interview to German media. He asks something else but the mic is off.

Obama says the times I've visited Germany have been wonderful. I will always have a warm spot in my heart for Germany. We had a rally in Germany. It was pretty good. I like Chancellor Merkel a lot, he said. She's smart, practical and I trust her when she says something. That's what you want from an international partner.
On climate change, Obama boasts the energy bill about to be voted on in the House.

Merkel: I'm gratified Obama is interested in the climate issue. We're both convinced climate change means more than numbers.
Partial video: