This weekend, President Obama traveled to Germany to talk trade, Russia, and the growing threat of Islamic extremists with the leaders of the other G-7 nations.
Topping the list of topics up for discussion is the continuing threat of Russian aggression in Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe. The White House didn’t put withdrawal from Crimea as a condition of restored relations between Russia and the west, but did push for the continuation of sanctions until Putin upholds his end of the so-called Minsk agreements, which were updated last year after Russia annexed the peninsula.
According to reporters covering the meeting, Obama spent a great deal of time meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, leading some to believe that the relationship once tarnished by covert surveillance has repaired itself:
Obama and Merkel met privately afterward at the nearby Schloss Elmau resort to coordinate their summit agenda before joining the leaders of Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan. Russian President Vladimir Putin was ousted from the group last year over his annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, although the crisis remains as fighting with pro-Moscow separatists spiked in the past week despite a ceasefire agreement negotiated four months ago in Belarus.
Obama press secretary Josh Earnest said Merkel and Obama spent most of their meeting talking about the importance of showing unity in speaking out against Russia as Moscow “has essentially thumbed their nose at the commitments they made in the context of the Minsk negotiations.” Earnest said Obama is pushing Europe to preserve sanctions against Russia until Moscow lives up to that agreement, but he couldn’t say the president is confident they will elect to do so later this summer.
“Ultimately it will be up to the Europeans to do so, keeping in mind our shared view that keeping up this unity is very important,” he said.
The sanctions are controversial in Europe, and critics say that they have been largely unsuccessful in controlling Putin’s behavior.
Also on the table was the topic of the “fast-track” legislation that would allow the President more flexibility in negotiating international trade agreements. Via Fox News:
Obama and his advisers voiced confidence about the trade-authority deal to Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and the other world economic leaders, at Schloss Elmau, a one-time German artist retreat turned luxury spa.
But their efforts face a deeply uncertain future.
The president’s own Democratic Party is largely opposed to legislation that allows Congress to reject or approve, but not change, trade deals negotiated by the administration. In an unusual political role reversal, the president’s reservoir of support has come from his Republican opponents.
If Obama succeeds, it would boost the prospects for Congress eventually ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, a 12-nation consortium that includes G-7 partners Japan and Canada. The other G-7 nations — Britain, France, Germany, and Italy — have a stake in a U.S.-European Union trade deal that is on a slower course.
The White House declined to offer more insight on what was discussed, or what (if any) problems cropped up during the meeting.DONATE
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