THE LATEST: Obama repeats support for Britain staying in EU

AP News
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Posted: Jun 07, 2015 2:47 PM
THE LATEST: Obama repeats support for Britain staying in EU

ELMAU, Germany (AP) — 8:45 p.m. (1845 GMT; 2:45 p.m. EDT)

President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his support for Britain staying in the European Union, saying the country's influence is positive both on the continent and around the world.

Obama's comments came at the start of a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron on the sidelines of the G-7 summit. It's their first meeting since Cameron's party pulled off an unexpectedly strong victory in elections last month.

Cameron, under pressure from the right wing UK Independence Party and many in his own Conservative Party, has committed to a referendum on whether to withdraw from the 28-nation bloc. The referendum is planned by the end of 2017.

Obama didn't explicitly mention the referendum but said he looks forward to Britain "staying a part of the European Union."

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7:35 p.m. (1735 GMT; 1.35 p.m. EDT)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she expects the G-7 leaders to send a "united signal" that sanctions against Russia can only be softened if a February peace accord for eastern Ukraine is implemented.

In an interview with ZDF television at the leaders' summit, Merkel stressed anew that sanctions are not an end in themselves and they "can be dispensed with when the conditions under which they were introduced are no longer there and the problems are resolved."

She said that "we have a chance if everyone makes an effort — that is to some extent in Russia's hands and of course in Ukraine's."

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7:15 p.m. (1715 GMT; 13:15 p.m. EDT)

Bavaria is well known for its wheat beers, whether alcoholic or not.

President Barack Obama's visit Sunday to the picturesque Alpine village of Kruen, near the G-7 summit venue, included a taste of local delicacies: a plate of weisswurst, a rack of pretzels and a tall glass of beer. Considering it was still morning in Germany, speculation was that the president chose a non-alcoholic version.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he didn't know what kind of beer the president had been served, but said he was confident "he did not order a non-alcoholic beer. Even after an overnight flight on a Sunday morning."

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6:35 p.m. (1635 GMT; 12:35 p.m. EDT)

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says pro-Russian rebels' actions in Ukraine took up a little more than half of President Barack Obama's private pre-summit meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Earnest said Obama and G-7 summit host Merkel "agreed that preserving the unity of the U.S. and our European allies and partners is a top priority."

He added: "There was a shared view and a shared hope that we'll be able to preserve that unity with respect to our sanctions program moving forward."

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4:55 p.m. (1455 GMT; 10:55 a.m. EDT)

With aching muscles, 400 protesters are making their way back down the mountain after failing to breach the security perimeter around the German Alpine hotel where the G-7 leaders are meeting.

Protester Micha Schmid from Bavaria said "we didn't make it in, but I think we sent a message that the world leaders are hiding from the people."

Walking through a Bavarian Alpine meadow in full bloom, he added "and this was definitely the most beautiful protest I've ever been on."

After a 2 ½-hour uphill hike and a two-hour standoff with police, dozens of activists stopped for beer and sausages at a 300-year-old guest house before making the final descent to the resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Police in heavy body armor looked on hungrily for a while before leaving the protesters to enjoy their refreshments.

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4:20 p.m. (1420 GMT; 10:20 a.m. EDT)

Crises in Ukraine and Syria and debates over the global economy and climate change are overshadowing the Group of Seven summit in Germany — but the immediate outlook for the leaders there is idyllic.

The leaders of Germany, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, the U.S. and the European Union posed for photos Sunday in a sun-soaked, flower-strewn Alpine meadow in the Bavarian Alps before getting down to work.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a light blue pantsuit, stood out at the center of the group among her dark-suited male colleagues.

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2:55 p.m. (1255 GMT; 8.55 a.m. EDT)

The White House says President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have discussed Ukraine — and both agree that economic sanctions against Russia should remain until the "full implementation" of a Ukrainian peace accord and Russian respect for its neighbor's sovereignty.

The two leaders met Sunday in Bavaria before an annual summit of leaders from the Group of Seven industrialized nations.

The U.S. and its European allies imposed several rounds of economic penalties on Russia after it annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine last year. A February peace accord aimed at ending the fighting in eastern Ukraine has yet to be fully undertaken. The West accuses Russia of backing separatist rebels in Ukraine, a charge Russia denies.

Obama and Merkel also talked about promoting economic growth through a trans-Atlantic trade deal and achieving a climate change accord this year.

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2.30 p.m. (1230 GMT; 8.30 a.m. EDT)

The sun's out in the Bavarian Alps, so President Barack Obama thought it was a nice day for a walk.

Obama was the last of the G-7 leaders to be greeted Sunday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a resort hotel. That's because most of his counterparts rolled up to the more than 100-year-old Schloss Elmau in golf carts — except for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who arrived stylishly in a compact BMW.

Obama was the only one of the visiting leaders to walk the last stretch of the uphill route.

Obama often chafes at the limits placed on his mobility by U.S. Secret Service agents who protect him around the clock. He tries to avoid the motorcade and walk when he can.

The world leaders will spend Sunday and Monday meeting at the secluded hotel in the Bavarian Alps.

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1:55 p.m. (1155 GMT; 7:55 a.m. EDT)

Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed the Group of Seven's leaders to the secluded Schloss Elmau hotel for their annual gathering, the sixth summit of the world's leading industrial powers hosted by Germany.

Merkel and her husband, Joachim Sauer, received President Barack Obama and the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Italy and Japan in bright sunshine at the luxury resort in the Bavarian Alps. They were joined by European Union leaders Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, who also are participants.

Germany first hosted the G-7 in 1978. The group later expanded to include Russia, becoming the G-8, which Merkel hosted in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm in 2007.

Russia was excluded from the group last year over its actions in Ukraine. This is the second G-7 summit since then.

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1.30 p.m. (1130 GMT; 7.30 a.m. EDT)

Too much hot air?

Members of an anti-poverty group have sent up balloons bearing the faces of the Group of Seven's leaders, urging them to stick to commitments to fight poverty around the world.

Adrian Lovett, a member of the group called One, said Sunday that "we want their discussions here in Schloss Elmau to be much more than hot air." The balloons included ones of President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, among others.

Heading into the summit, Germany has said one of its goals is to get a firm commitment from the other leaders to work toward the goal of helping bring 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030.

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12:55 p.m. (1055 GMT; 6.55 a.m. EDT)

European Union President Donald Tusk says G-7 protests are a sign of a healthy democracy.

Tusk says the Group of Seven world leaders have no need to apologize for their meeting Sunday and Monday in the Bavarian Alps. He says the gathering of industrialized democracies is "the best guarantee" that freedom and pluralism will survive.

A range of anti-capitalist and other groups have gathered to protest against the G-7 annual summit, but have been kept at a distance by thousands of German police.

Tusk, who is attending the gathering, said Sunday that in G-7 nations "people can demonstrate, can think what they want, say what they want and even look like they want."

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12.10 p.m. (1010 GMT; 6.10 a.m. EDT)

After a hike, about 200 protesters have reached the security fence around the G-7 summit venue, the Schloss Elmau hotel in Germany's Bavarian Alps. On the other side, about 100 police officers with dogs were patrolling the fence to keep the demonstrators out.

The crowd on Sunday was shouting slogans like "Freedom and peace, no more G-7!" and waving signs with slogans like "Politics for people, not markets."

Along the way, there were minor scuffles with police patrolling the dirt path that led to the area, but no major incidents or arrests were reported.

The annual summit has drawn repeated protests by those who believe the leaders' decisions favor banks and business interests over those of ordinary people. A planned trans-Atlantic free trade agreement this year is a particular concern.

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11.45 a.m. (0940 GMT, 5:40 a.m. EDT)

President Barack Obama is calling the current partnership between the U.S. and Germany "one of the strongest alliances the world has ever known."

Obama opened his German visit Sunday by appearing in the picturesque Alpine village of Kruen with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama is closer to Merkel than most heads of state although their relationship was tested over the past two years following revelations that the National Security Agency had tapped her cellphone.

Obama says leaders will discuss the global economy, European Union, trade, Russian-Ukraine, violent extremism and climate change.

He told a crowd of beer-sipping locals that on these issues, world leaders are grateful for the "leadership and partnership of your chancellor."

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11:25 a.m. (0925 GMT, 5:25 a.m. EDT)

President Barack Obama thinks he could use some leather pants.

The U.S. president has met G-7 summit host German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the village of Kruen, greeting a crowd Sunday with the words "Gruess Gott" — the form of "hello" commonly used in Bavaria.

Obama told the crowd to laughter: "I forgot to bring my lederhosen, but I'm going to see if I can buy some when I'm here."

Lederhosen are leather shorts, sometimes with suspenders, that are a traditional Bavarian outfit for men.

Obama thanked residents for their warm reception, saying they put on the "best Alp horn performance that I've ever heard."

Kruen is a few kilometers (miles) from the Schloss Elmau hotel, where the G-7 summit will begin later Sunday.

(Corrects Obama quote to "best Alp horn" from "best Alpine.")

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11 a.m. (0900 GMT, 5 a.m. EDT)

Protesters have blocked roads as the leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies arrive in the Bavarian Alps to begin a two-day summit.

Several hundred demonstrators began hiking early Sunday from the resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen to get near the security perimeter around the Schloss Elmau hotel, the secluded summit venue 8 kilometers (5 miles) away.

Some 22,000 police from around Germany were brought in to keep the protesters away from the hotel as the delegations from the U.S., Germany, France, Britain, Canada, Japan and Italy began arriving. Journalists were flown by helicopter to the venue to avoid delays on the roads Sunday due to the protesters.

There was a short clash between protesters and police during a demonstration Saturday but it was otherwise relatively peaceful.

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This story has been corrected to show that Obama said "Alp horn performance," not "Alpine performance."