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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Sunday, December 17, 2017

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Obama in Germany: Free trade deal, global security issues discussed

Discussed global security issues

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HANOVER, Germany - In what is being seen as his last visit to Germany as the U.S. President, Barack Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and discussed global security issues and the much opposed trans-Atlantic free trade deal.> Big News Network

After meeting Merkel in Hanover, Obama addressed a joint press conference with the Chancellor and stressed on the importance of U.S. and the European Union to keep pressing for a trans-Atlantic free trade deal.

Addressing global media, Obama declared that he was confident that the U.S. and EU would succeed in negotiating a new trans-Atlantic trade deal by the end of the year. He reiterated that the benefits of such an agreement were "indisputable."

He said, “When we’re in the heat of campaigns, people are naturally going to worry more about what’s lost than what’s gained, with respect to trade agreements. I’m confident we are going to be able to get this done.”

Obama justified the push by claiming that there would be problems if the U.S. failed to remain competitive in the face of growing economies in Asia.

The U.S. President said that the U.S.’ free trade pact with the EU, referred to as “the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Industrial Pact (TTIP) would remove unnecessary bureaucratic and regulatory hurdles and make business between the two partners easier.”

“I don’t anticipate that we’ll be able to have completed ratification of a deal by the end of the year, but I do anticipate we can have completed the agreement. If not, political transitions could mean this agreement is not concluded for quite some time,” he pointed out.

Experts have said that TTIP would make it easier and cheaper for companies on both sides of the Atlantic to do business. It is further said to provide a boost to the global economy amid persistent, sluggish growth.

Merkel too addressed the issue and said, “TTIP is a treaty that establishes standards in a very special way, so I want to very strongly express my support for using this window of time. It won’t come back anytime soon. So let’s work on this together.”

Obama was visiting Germany to preside over the opening of what has been labeled as the world’s leading and largest trade fair for industry technology, Hannover Messe that witnesses over 6,500 exhibitors and 200,000 visitors from 70 countries.

The visit by Obama comes merely a day after over 35,000 people staged a fierce opposition to the trade agreement in Germany that is reportedly set to cover over 800 million people. Protesters marched in Hannover and gathered at Opera Square where they claiming that the agreement will erode consumer and environmental protections.

Meanwhile, Obama’s discussion with Merkel also covered the persistent refugee crisis. German media reported that the U.S. President praised Merkel, calling her a “trusted partner” and appreciated her “courageous” handling of the refugee crisis. He further praised Merkel’s “real political and moral leadership” in welcoming more than 1 million migrants in 2015 and said that “she is on the right side of history.”

Discussions also focused on global security concerns like the constant threat by the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group.

Obama said Germany and U.S. remain united in their determination to destroy “this barbaric organisation.” He further thanked Merkel for her strong support as a member of the international coalition that is working in Iraq.

Obama said, “Germany has taken the important step of equipping Kurdish forces in Iraq, and Germany is preparing to lead the training mission of local forces in Erbil. Germany is a close partner in combating the threat of foreign terrorist fighters, which was the focus of a special session of the U.N. Security Council that I chaired last fall. And under Angela's leadership, Germany is moving ahead with new legislation to prevent fighters from traveling to and from Syria and Iraq.”

Obama also added, “We remain deeply concerned about the upsurge in fighting in Syria over the last several days, and we continue to agree that the only real durable solution is a political solution that moves Syria towards an inclusive government that represents all Syrians.”

Merkel spoke about her comments on creating “safe zones” while on her trip to meet Syrian refugees in Turkey’s Gaziantep.

She defended her stance claiming that these areas needed to be created so people could feel safe, receive food and humanitarian supplies without worrying about war.

She added, “These safe zones, however, needed to be part of the Geneva peace talks on Syria.” Merkel said her proposal for safe zones in Syria consists of international efforts to bring peace to the country.

Obama, however, said establishing safe zones in Syria would be difficult without the US "essentially being willing to take over a chunk of that country."

Both the leaders are also said to be in “absolute agreement” of implementing the Minsk peace deal and were said to be gauging ways to do the same.

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