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Merkel and Obama Emphasize Economic Stability, Mideast Peace

German Chancellor Angela Merkel — in Washington to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom — and President Obama held a joint news conference Tuesday, where they spoke of their countries’ cooperation in scientific innovation, global economic stability and the missions in Afghanistan and Libya.

Watch their opening statements and questions from reporters.

Both were asked about the pace of economic recovery.

President Obama said he was not concerned about a double-dip recession but was concerned that the U.S. recovery was not producing jobs as quickly as he wanted.

“We’re experiencing some headwinds,” such as high gas prices, he said, so “we’re working on an energy policy to help bring stability to world oil prices.”

The U.S. is on a path to recovery, but it has to accelerate, he said.

Merkel said the nations of Europe have seen how interdependent they are and how the stability of the euro zone is important for the stability of the rest of the global economy.

If a country in the euro zone is in danger, it’s in the other countries’ interest to bolster it, she said.

Merkel is getting some flack in her country for Germany’s contribution to a financial bailout for Greece.

Regarding the peace process in the Middle East, both leaders spoke of the need for a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, and said they agreed that unilateral actions would not help.

Unilateral actions, such as the Palestinians seeking a vote in the United Nations on statehood, should be avoided, said President Obama. Merkel said both sides should return to talks.

On Afghanistan, they touted Germany’s troop contribution, and Merkel pointed out that a unified civil and military approach was needed.

Both Merkel and Obama expressed their interest in seeing the Middle East and North Africa region — currently experiencing pro-democracy movements and unrest — land on its feet.

Mr. Obama gave a positive assessment of Libya, saying the regime has been pushed back in certain areas and was suffering from defections. He said he thought it was just a matter of time before leader Moammar Gadhafi goes, and that the international pressure on him would continue until he does.

They downplayed Germany’s limited role in the NATO mission in Libya, with President Obama saying Germany’s deployment of additional resources to Afghanistan let other allies increase their support in Libya.

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