BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel praised on Thursday the special historical significance of US President Barack Obama s trip this week to Europe, just ahead of his arrival in Germany.
Obama was due to arrive at around 1900 GMT in the eastern German city of Dresden, where Allied bombing in the closing months of World War II is estimated to have killed around 35,000 people.
After talks on Friday with Merkel and a news conference at around 0810 GMT, the two are due to travel to the Buchenwald former Nazi concentration camp where more than 56,000 prisoners died in horrendous conditions.
After paying a visit to wounded US troops in Landstuhl medical centre, the US president was due to wrap up his trip in France at the 65th anniversary commemorations of the D-Day landings in Normandy on Saturday.
Dresden, Normandy and Buchenwald are examples of the dreadful suffering of the clash of civilisations unleashed across Europe by Germany, Merkel told the Leipziger Volkszeitung daily in an interview to be published on Friday.
Obama s great-uncle Charlie Payne took part as a US army private in the 1945 liberation of Ohrdruf, a forced labor camp that was a satellite of Buchenwald.
Conservative US bloggers have accused Obama of planning an apology for the raids in 1945 that destroyed three-quarters of Dresden, that before the war was a beautiful Baroque city dubbed Florence on the Elbe.
Obama will be able to see in Dresden that after the reconstruction of recent years a city that was once a memorial to suffering and destruction has become a jewel, Merkel said.
She added that their talks would focus on the global financial crisis, climate change, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iran s disputed nuclear program, North Korea and the Middle East.
We need common answers from Americans and Europeans, she said.
Obama was due to arrive in Germany from Egypt, where in a landmark speech to the world s Muslims he vowed to forge a new beginning for Islam and America and laid out a new blueprint for US Middle East policy. -AFP