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Obama tells world we must unite
“I’d love to give a speech in Germany, but I’d much prefer to do it as president of the United States rather than as a candidate for president,” Mr. McCain told reporters after a meal of bratwurst with local business leaders at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that Mr. Obama’s trip and his remarks abroad will have no impact on the Bush administration’s foreign policy during its final months.
“Everybody knows that we are in a presidential campaign, so this a part of America’s democratic process,” she told reporters during a trip to Singapore and Australia. President Bush “has said, and we continue to act on the basis, as do our foreign partners, that this government remains in power until January 2009.”
Earlier Thursday, Mr. Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, opposition leader Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the mayor of Berlin in meetings closed to the press.
Obama senior strategist Robert Gibbs said the senator had a “warm and productive conversation” with Mrs. Merkel, a talk that ranged in topic from Afghanistan to climate change.
In his speech later, he made no new policy announcements, offering only broad plans for securing loose nuclear weapons and saying both the United States and Germany “have a stake in seeing that NATO’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders [in Afghanistan] is a success.”
He added, “America cannot do this alone.”
The reception from the Berlin crowd was as rapturous as the campaign could have hoped. During the speech, one fan held a sign reading, “Barack for Kanzler,” the German word for “chancellor,” and dozens of Europeans in the crowd said they cannot wait to see Mr. Bush leave office.
About 700 Berlin police officers reportedly were assigned to the event, which also needed a larger-than-usual force of Secret Service agents.
A German man was ejected for holding an umbrella adorned with signs reading “McCain,” telling people, “I am pro-America,” before being removed by security officials. In another security breach, some Obama supporters overwhelmed the police after one person created a distraction by leaping over a barrier. As officers ran after him, about 50 fans rushed closer to the stage.
Mr. Obama lauded Berlin for standing strong for freedom and for its rich history and said it’s a place that proves “there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one,” a line that inspired the speech’s title.
He worked to illustrate the global nature of problems anywhere, saying that the Sept. 11 terror attacks against the United States were plotted in several places and killed people “from all over the globe on American soil” and that carbon emissions from cars in Boston and Beijing are melting the Arctic ice cap, shrinking coastlines and creating droughts all over the world.
Even though Mr. Obama voted for a border wall between the United States and Mexico, he said there is a danger in allowing new walls “to divide us from one another.”
“The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand,” he said. “The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christians and Muslims and Jews cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.”
Like he does in American campaign speeches, Mr. Obama said change in the form of “true partnership” and “true progress” will take both hard work and sacrifice.
About the Author
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
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