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POLITICS

Obama team mulling speech at Brandenburg Gate

Democratic US presidential candidate Barack Obama has requested permission to give an address at the Brandenburg Gate when he visits Berlin later this month, according to German media reports.

Obama team mulling speech at Brandenburg Gate
Photo: DPA

Although it’s still not official, various German media are reporting that Obama’s team has contacted the Berlin Senate to discuss the possibility of the presidential hopeful delivering an outdoor speech in front of the famous landmark. It would likely be his only public speech during an upcoming European tour which is set to include stops in Germany, France and the UK.

If permission is granted, the address would be loaded with historical significance. The Brandenburg Gate is where former US President Ronald Regan gave a famous speech in 1987, during which he asked then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall.

Both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier have expressed interest in meeting Obama, although dates for his visit have not yet been confirmed.

Obama is immensely popular in Berlin – a factor that appears to have some of his advisors worried. According to reports in the daily Berliner Morgenpost, some of his staff have warned him that excessive popularity in Europe could end up costing him votes at home, as was the case with 2004 presidential candidate, John Kerry.

UKRAINE

Germany’s defence minister visits Ukraine: ministry

Germany's Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Saturday, her first since Russia's invasion in February, as Kyiv urges Berlin to send it battle tanks.

Germany's defence minister visits Ukraine: ministry

Lambrecht visited the southern port city of Odessa, the German defence ministry said in a statement, without saying how long the trip had lasted. It added on Twitter that she had met her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov.

So far, no NATO country has supplied Western battle tanks to Kyiv.

Ukraine has repeatedly sought Leopard battle tanks from Germany to aid in its counter-attack against Russia, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has refused.

Scholz has said he doesn’t want to go it alone on arms supplies and will only take decisions in consultation with his Western allies.

Lambrecht reiterated this stance in Odessa: “We will always confer with our partners about what Ukraine needs,” she said.

“From my impressions today, air defence and artillery are currently at the forefront,” she told public broadcaster ARD.

She added that she had seen how the “populations were tormented by drones”.

Lambrecht’s visit came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

These annexations have been unanimously condemned by Ukraine’s allies.

“Germany will never recognise the results of the sham referendums” in the four regions, Scholz told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone on Wednesday, according to the chancellor’s spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

Scholz travelled to Ukraine in June, and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has visited Kyiv twice.

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