Obama, Merkel trade partnership pledge

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Merkel, 56, is not known for being flashy, but being welcomed to the White House in such elaborate style could help improve her image at home.

Obama awarded Merkel the Medal of Freedom last year but did not have an opportunity to present it to her. At the time, Obama spoke about her youth in communist East Germany and her dreams of freedom that were not realized until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Obama said her story was an inspiration to people around the world.

While the black-tie dinner has been in the works for months, the White House was keeping a tight lid on all aspects of the evening — from the menu and decor to first lady Michelle Obama’s gown — until a few hours before guests start arriving. In this age of raging social media, the White House also frowns on guests tweeting excitedly about the dinner beforehand, as has happened in the past.

Among the few known details: Both the dinner and reception and entertainment will be held in the Rose Garden, a first for the Obamas. Workers were laying down carpet on the lawn Monday evening in preparation. Guests also are likely to dine on fresh lettuce and other produce from Mrs. Obama’s garden.

The last White House dinner for a German leader was held for Chancellor Helmut Kohl in February 1995.

Associated Press writers Melissa Eddy and David Rising in Berlin and Darlene Superville and Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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