Before heading to a NATO summit in Brussels where she would meet with President Donald Trump and a host of other world leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel indulged in an exercise of mutual praise with her “dear friend" former U.S. President Barack Obama as the pair appeared in public during a gathering at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate meant to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the Associated Press reports.
In an apparent attempt to rally support for Merkel ahead of the German federal election this fall, Obama praised Merkel’s leadership ability, calling her one of his “favorite partners” during his presidency.
In a veiled reference to his successor Donald Trump, who has proposed to cut support for diplomacy and international aid by nearly a third, Obama said those programs are essential aspects of national security policy.
"We can't isolate ourselves. We can't hide behind a wall," he said, to cheers from the audience.
The visit was a useful distraction for Merkel, whose continued occupancy of the chancellorship, once seemingly assured, is increasingly threatened by “anti-Trump” Martin Schultz and his social democratic party, who appear poised to upset the political status quo in Germany.
The pair also found time to crack a few jokes.
Here's more on the visit from the AP:
Referring to the terror attack in England just days ago, Obama said that he and the chancellor were "heartbroken about the loss of life ... and that it's a reminder that there is great danger and terrorism and people who want to do great harm to others just because they're different."
Despite describing the world as "a very complicated place," Obama and Merkel still found time to joke with each other and made the crowd laugh several times. The harmony and ease between the two leaders was a stark contrast to Merkel's meeting with Trump in Washington in March, when the U.S. president appeared to refuse to shake Merkel's hand in front of reporters. Trump has said he didn't hear a reporter calling for a handshake.