Obama and Merkel underline German-American friendship and partnership

Speaking to several thousand guests, including a group of German exchange students participating in the Congress-Bundestag Program (CBYX), at a welcome ceremony for German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel on the White House South Lawn yesterday, President Obama and the Chancellor both stressed the close cooperation between the U.S. and Germany and the partnership of their people.

Chancellor Merkel specifically underlined how day-to-day interactions between Americans and Germans, including through exchanges, have established the countries' friendship over the past decades:

"Our friendship has grown and matured throughout the decades, and every day it is filled with new life. More than 600,000 Americans are working for German companies here in the United States, and the reverse is also true - more than 600,000 Germans work for American companies in Germany. There are many and diverse exchange programs at schools and universities, and they help us to win over numerous young people to serve as bridge builders between our two countries ... The more than 50,000 American soldiers who are currently stationed in Germany are more than welcome every day."

Chancellor Merkel's visit to Washington, DC, marked the first official visit and State Dinner for a European leader during President Obama's presidency. At a State Gala Dinner last night, President Obama awarded Merkel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.