Obama, Merkel call for action to speed up EU-US trade talks

President Barack Obama joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday in calling for action to accelerate the proposed US-European Union trade deal.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Obama in the northern German city of Hanover, Merkel said she was in favour of "speeding matters up" in the talks to conclude the controversial trade agreement, which has generated criticism in Germany and Europe.

"It is indisputable that free trade has strengthened the US economy and also has brought enormous benefits to countries that engage in it," said Obama, who was in Hanover to join Merkel for the opening of the annual Hanover Messe, the world's biggest industrial trade fair.

The US is for the first time the partner nation at the fair.

Obama and Merkel's comments on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) came after they held more than 90 minutes of talks on key global security and business issues, including Syria, Libya, the refugee crisis and efforts to contain Russia.

Throughout their press conference, the US president repeatedly heaped praise on the chancellor describing her as "steady, consistent and trustworthy."

But in particular he was highly complimentary of her handling of the refugee crisis, which has unleashed tensions across Europe and Germany.

"She is on the right side of history," said Obama. She has followed "some tough politics ... that brings people together rather than dividing them."

The US president's two-day stay in Hanover is his fifth visit to Germany and the last leg of a three-nation trip, which forms part of his farewell to world leaders during his final months in office.

Obama and Merkel expressed at the press conference their deep concern about the ceasefire in Syria following renewed fighting in the war-torn nation.

Merkel described current developments in Syria as "very worrying," while Obama said he and the chancellor agreed that the international community needed to use all its power to drive the Syrian peace talks forward.

"It's a tragedy I live with everyday," Obama said.

Last update: Sun, 21/08/2016 - 12:53
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