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President Obama cites value of U.S.-German alliance

President Barack Obama welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House today, calling Germany one of the United States’ strongest friends in a transatlantic alliance that’s the cornerstone of efforts to promote peace and prosperity around the world.

Speaking on the South Lawn of the White House, Obama said the generations-long U.S. relationship with Germany remains critical today.

“At a time when some have asked whether the rise of new global powers means the decline of others, this visit reaffirms an enduring truth,” he said. “Our alliances with nations like Germany are more important than ever. Indeed, they’re indispensible to global security and prosperity.”

Recognizing NATO, to which both nations belong, as “the most successful alliance in human history,” the president called its commitment to its members’ common defense a pillar of global security. This extends, he said, “from completing our mission in Afghanistan to preventing terrorist attacks to achieving our vision of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Merkel said the two countries’ solid foundation enables them to face current challenges together.

“Germany and the United States are partners, sharing responsibility for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan,” she said. “We are pulling in the same direction, trying to keep Iran from following its course of developing a nuclear forces capability. In North Africa, we support the struggle for freedom. And in the Middle East, we support efforts to fill the peace process with new life.”

In addition, Merkel said, both countries have confronted the global economic and financial crisis. Obama said their strong economies stand as a testament to what can be achieved when nations invest in their people and foster innovation.

“As people around the world imagine a different future, the story of Germany and our alliance in the 20th century shows what’s possible in the 21st,” Obama said. “Wars can end. Adversaries can become allies. Walls can come down. At long last, nations can be whole and can be free.”

Obama is slated to present Merkel the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a state dinner tonight.

“I see this as a gesture of appreciation for the whole of this united Germany,” she said of the honor. “It is also a testament of the very, very close ties that bind our two countries together.”

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