Really, I do like you, Obama tells French and Germans

Mon Jun 8, 2009 1:18am EDT
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By Ross Colvin

PARIS (Reuters) - Barack Obama's trip to Europe this weekend revealed deep anxieties among the French and Germans that the U.S. president, hugely popular in both countries, doesn't really like them.

After years in which France and Germany happily distanced themselves from the unpopular policies of former President George W. Bush, Obama appeared bemused as he tried to reassure French and German journalists at a press conference they should not read anything into the brevity of his 2-1/2-day trip.

But he learnt, like the most popular kid in school who everyone wants to befriend, that the slightest gesture can seem like a snub to those anxious to be liked.

The president spent less than a day on Friday in Germany, where he held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and visited the Buchenwald concentration camp that his great uncle helped to liberate in World War Two.

"Most of the speculation around my schedule here in Germany doesn't take into account simple logistics, traveling, trying to get from one place to the other ... there are only 24 hours in a day."

"So stop it, all of you," Obama, with a smile, told journalists.

"I know you have to have something to report on but we have more than enough problems out there without manufacturing problems."

The shortness of Obama's stay in Germany and his decision not to go to Berlin led to German media speculation of a rift, but the president dismissed this as "wild speculation."   Continued...

<p>President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy speak during a bilateral meeting at The Prefecture in France June 6, 2009. REUTERS/Larry Downing</p>