Thursday, June 20, 2013

Obama to unveil plans of nuclear war heads reduction in Berlin speech

Berlin: 20 Jun 2013

President Barack Obama will unveil plans for a sharp reduction in nuclear warheads in a landmark speech at the Brandenburg Gate that comes 50 years after John F. Kennedy declared \"Ich bin ein Berliner\" in a defiant Cold War address.

A senior U.S. administration official said Obama, on his first visit to the German capital as president, would signal his desire to cut deployed atomic weapons by up to one third below the level achieved in the last \"New START\" treaty with Russia.

\"The U.S. intent is to seek negotiated cuts with Russia so that we can continue to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures,\" the official said.

Fresh from a two day summit with Group of Eight leaders in Northern Ireland, Obama is due to speak at the Gate that once stood alongside slabs of the Berlin Wall that divided the communist East and capitalist West sections of the city.

It has been nearly five years since he last came to Berlin as a presidential candidate, attracting a crowd of 200,000 adoring fans at a speech in the Tiergarten park.

A lot has changed since then. After more than four years in office, Obama has disappointed some Europeans who saw him as a more progressive face of America compared to his predecessor, Republican George W. Bush.

But the Democrat leader remains popular in Germany, and he has forged a pragmatic - if not warm - relationship with conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of his closest European allies. Obama\'s trip gives her a boost just months before a German election.

The president will spend his day in meetings with Merkel, German President Joachim Gauck, and Peer Steinbrueck, the Social Democrat running against her this fall. Obama and Merkel are scheduled to give a press conference around midday, followed by the speech three hours later.
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