Germany warns Obama on foreign policy speech

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The German foreign ministry has warned visiting presidential candidate Barack Obama against demanding more German troops for Afghanistan

Berlin -- German politicians Tuesday urged Barack Obama not to call for greater troop contributions from Europeans in Afghanistan when he outlines his plans for US foreign policy in a major speech in Berlin later this week.

"It makes no sense to make demands that partners cannot fulfil," Rainer Arnold, a parliamentary defence spokesman for the Social Democrats (SPD), told the online edition of Der Spiegel news magazine.

The SPD, the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand coalition, has made clear that the additional 1,000 troops to be made available for Afghanistan, taking the deployment to a maximum 4,500, is as far as they are prepared to go.

Obama is widely expected to call for a greater European contribution to the NATO military effort in Afghanistan when he speaks on Thursday on how US foreign policy will look if he is elected president.

Eckart von Klaeden, foreign policy spokesman for Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), noted that the Illinois senator had made several calls for US allies to make a greater military contribution.

"There will be questions in the US if he says nothing on Iraq and Afghanistan during his most important speech on the continent, especially as he has just visited both countries," Von Klaeden said.

Berlin is gearing up for the Obama visit, with city authorities preparing a large open-air venue on the boulevard running from the city's Siegesauele victory column to the Brandenburg Gate.

Officials said they were expecting anywhere between from 10,000 to one million people to turn out to hear him speak.

A recent poll found that more than 70 per cent of Germans would back Obama to be the next US president.


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