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One-time 'superstar' Obama returns to Berlin as a mere president

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One-time 'superstar' Obama returns to Berlin as a mere president


President Barack Obama may still have the kind of popularity ratings that any politician would envy, but some Germans say the president’s ‘superstar’ status has been slightly tarnished.

His arrival last night in Berlin on a 24-hour trip culminates in a speech at the city’s iconic Brandenburg Gate.

According to a senior US official, Obama will use that speech to revive proposals for a world without nuclear arms by targeting cuts in deployed nuclear weapons of up to a third below levels achieved in a 2010 treaty with Russia.

However it was far from clear how Moscow would respond to the new initiative on nuclear weapons, given the Russian view that nuclear deterrents guarantee its security.

Last time he was in Berlin, in 2008 as a presidential candidate, expectations were high.

But Obama is now well into his second term and German critics claim he has failed to deliver.

Most recently, an issue to rile a country which holds individual privacy dear is the PRISM programme scandal which has revealed that Obama has expanded Bush-era surveillance of phone calls and emails. Chancellor Angela Merkel had promised to raise the subject when they meet for private talks.

At a news conference after the meeting Obama said he was confident that the US has struck an appropriate balance between intelligence gathering and civil liberties.

Obama’s escalation of drone warfare has also provoked protests in Berlin.

But on the 50th anniversary of John F Kennedy’s famous Cold War address, Obama is expected to express the value of German/American ties.

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