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Tension escalates between US president, German chancellor on Libya

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Washington, June 8, IRNA -- Tension escalated between President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as they worked to minimize differences concerning military intervention in Libya.

The visit comes amid fears that the alliance is being undermined by differences on a range of issues and continued German press reports saying that Germany disputed the US-led military intervention in Libya.

The German public is wary of any foreign military action, a legacy of the country's World War II aggression. Ms. Merkel decided not to risk voter backlash by supporting intervention in Libya, as Germany's close allies in Paris, London and Washington decided a no-fly zone was necessary.

German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, argued there wasn't enough information on the ground to justify military intervention.

'Not each and every one can be in on [all] missions,' Ms. Merkel told a joint press conference with US president Tuesday.

'There will still be a lot of work to do,' she said. 'We agree that Germany … will be showing that it is responsible and committed to the Libyan cause. There will be a lot of problems still to contend with.'

The U.S. and Germany also have aired differences on key economic policies, with Germany's finance minister critical of the Federal Reserve's effort to pump money into the U.S. economy, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urging Germany to act more decisively to shore up the finances of its battered partners in the euro zone.

Obama said that he and Ms. Merkel had 'extensive' discussions on the debt crisis and that those holding Greek debt are going to have to 'make some decisions' about how the debt is managed. He made it clear that American growth depends on a resolution of the crisis.

'We think it would be disastrous for us to see an uncontrolled spiral and default in Europe, because that could trigger a whole range of other events,' the president said.

Ms. Merkel agreed and said the problem was Europe's to solve. 'The stability of the euro zone is therefore an important factor of stability for the whole of the global economy. So we do see clearly our European responsibility. And we're shouldering that responsibility together with the IMF,' she said.

The leaders' personal relationship got off to a rocky start when Obama visited Berlin as a presidential candidate in 2008 and Ms. Merkel denied his request to use the Brandenburg Gate as the backdrop for a speech. German media commentators often complain he hasn't returned to the capital since then, though he has been to other German cities.

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