25 Jul 2008

Obama pledges stronger ties with Europe

5:27 pm on 25 July 2008

American presidential candidate Barack Obama has told a crowd in Berlin that he will renew the partnership between the United States and Europe if he is elected to the White House.

He said neither Europe nor America could afford to withdraw into isolation in the face of challenges such as terrorism and global warming.

More than 200,000 people crowded into the centre of Berlin to hear the Democratic Party candidate's speech.

Waves of applause roared through the wide boulevard linking the Brandenburg Gate with the Victory Column, as Senator Obama told Berliners the United States and Europe had to stand together and be partners who listened to each other.

Relations between Germany and the United States cooled over the invasion of Iraq, and many Germans said they hoped for a renewal in ties under a possible new US president.

Speaking a few hundred metres from the Bandenburg Gate, Mr Obama dotted his speech with references to the once-divided city and urged Germans not to let new walls divide the nations of the world.

A Pew Research Center poll showed Germans favour Obama over Republican John McCain by a 49-point margin.

The applause in the Tiergarten park weakened noticeably when Barack Obama urged Germany to help the United States bring stability to Afghanistan, saying: "The Afghan people need our troops and your troops".

Many Germans are opposed to their soldiers' involvement in Afghanistan as part of a NATO mission.