It's only a matter of time before Libyan leader Muammar Khaddafy steps down and there will be strong German support for the country at that time, President Obama said Tuesday during a press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Germany abstained from the United Nations Security Council vote to authorize force to establish a no-fly zone and protect Libyan civilians, but both leaders played down their differences on the issue today. Obama said the NATO operation in Libya was fully integrated and that German personnel were actively involved in their NATO role. He also said the country was doing more in Afghanistan.
"Germany has stepped up and taken additional responsibilities in Afghanistan that have freed up resources for us to be able to conduct our operations in Libya," Obama told journalists assembled in the East Room. "We did discuss last night Germany's role and there is going be a lot more work to do when Khaddafy does step down in terms of getting the Libyan people back on their feet -- economic, political work that's gonna have to be done and my expectation is gonna be that there will be full and robust German support."
At the welcome ceremony on the South Lawn this morning, the two leaders spoke of the strong partnership between the United States and Germany and about working together on the mission in Afghanistan, in the fight against terrorism and nuclear proliferation -- especially in countries like Iran -- and about their support for struggle for freedom in North Africa and peace in the Middle East. The pair discussed these issues during their Oval Office meeting this morning.
"I believe this is our 10th meeting together -- that doesn't include the many phone calls, videoconferences we seem to have at all hours of the day," Obama told reporters at the press conference. "There's hardly any global issue where we don't consult one another."
On the Middle East, Obama said the two countries agreed that unilateral actions, like Palestinians seeking a vote on statehood at the UN General Assembly "should be avoided."
Last night, Obama and the chancellor dined privately in Georgetown and, tonight, the president and first lady will host a State Dinner for Merkel -- their first for a European leader.