Obama and Merkel Begin Formal Meetings

BERLIN — The Latest on President Barack Obama’s last official overseas trip. (All times local.)

4 p.m.

President Barack Obama is sitting down with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for formal meetings in Berlin as part of Obama’s sixth and final visit to the nation.

The two leaders sat down on opposite sides of a long table along with top foreign policy aides. Obama was accompanied by his national security adviser, Susan Rice.

Obama and Merkel made no comments to reporters as they started the meeting. They’ll take questions together at a news conference later Thursday afternoon.

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3:40 p.m.

German news magazine Der Spiegel says U.S. President Barack Obama has praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel as someone “who is willing to fight for her values.”

Obama told Spiegel and German public Television ARD in a joint interview Thursday that he’s glad Merkel is around and that “the Germans should appreciate her.”

Obama also warned not to underestimate the consequences of globalization.

The president told the two media organizations that, “If the global economy does not respond to the people who feel left behind; if inequality continues to grow, we will witness that the divisions in the industrial countries will broaden.”

Der Spiegel and ARD released excerpts of the talk with Obama ahead of the screening of the entire interview on Thursday night.

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1:50 p.m.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest says the Obama administration has “put a lot of diplomatic capital on the table” to resolve the protracted civil war in Syria and acknowledges it “hasn’t worked,” but says military force is no solution.

Interviewed on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show Thursday from Berlin where he’s accompanying Obama on a visit to Germany, Earnest was asked about the continuing loss of life, including children, in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

“What is true is that the tactics that have been used by the Assad regime and the Russians are frankly disgraceful,” Earnest said, accusing them of seeking to target “innocent civilians” and saying it was an “outrage.”

“The question really is” what the United States and the international community can do to end the violence, Earnest said, adding that Secretary of State John Kerry “has been working doggedly” to bring relief for the suffering.

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12:05 p.m.

President Barack Obama is opening his first full day in Berlin by having lunch with U.S. Ambassador John Emerson.

The White House says they’re having a private lunch at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. Obama also spent part of his morning taping a joint interview with the Der Spiegel newspaper and German public TV station ARD.

Obama plans to meet later Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and hold a joint news conference with her.

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9:08 p.m.

President Barack Obama is stressing a message of solidarity on his final visit to Germany — a top trade partner, key NATO ally and home to thousands of American troops, as well as a nation critical to solving Europe’s migrant crisis and debt woes.

Obama arrived Wednesday night in Berlin from Greece, making his sixth and final visit as president to Germany, where he has been popular since even before he was elected. His eight years in office have helped erase much of the anti-American sentiment that had grown during the administration of George W. Bush over the Iraq war and other policies.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who worked well with Bush before Obama’s election, dined with Obama Wednesday night at his hotel and was to hold talks with him Thursday afternoon.

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