Tuesday German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. In her speech to U.S. lawmakers she pressed for an agreement at next month's climate change summit in Copenhagen, reiterated her country's commitment to Afghanistan and warned of the dangers of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Ms. Merkel is the first German chancellor to address the U.S. Congress in five decades - and the first ever to do so in a joint meeting.
The address comes days before the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a theme featured throughout her 30 minute speech.
The German leader, who met earlier in the day with President Barack Obama, spoke of many pressing global challenges, including Afghanistan, where she noted that Germany has the third largest troop contingent, Voice of America reports.
Before meeting with Mr. Obama in the Oval Office, Chancellor Merkel told reporters she wanted to thank the U.S. for its support for German unification.
"I wanted to use this opportunity today to express our gratitude, my gratitude to the American people for the support that the American people have given us throughout the process leading to German reunification," she said.
President Obama says the honor is particularly meaningful for the first native of the former East Germany to lead a unified Germany.
"This is a special moment for Chancellor Merkel, as somebody who grew up in East Germany, who understands what it is like to be under the shadow of a dictatorial regime, and to see how freedom has bloomed in Germany," the president said, Voice of America reports.
It was also reported, sitting in the Oval office she cut a small figure beside the towering President Barack Obama.
She occasionally turned to joke with her staff and at one point even covered her mouth with her hand to tell Mr. Obama something that made the pair of them laugh out loud.
She’s the Chancellor of Europe’s political and economic powerhouse – Germany.
Angela Merkel knows that by addressing a joint meeting of the Congress she can guarantee headlines back home in Europe. It’s an honour given only to America’s closest allies and friends.
But a warm welcome here is one thing. Translating that into effective co-operation for both sides – is another matter entirely, Aljazeera.net reports.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969