Jokes and sympathy _ Obama greets his G-8 guests

AP News
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Posted: May 19, 2012 1:03 AM
Jokes and sympathy _ Obama greets his G-8 guests

For a welcome, President Barack Obama acknowledged his Group of 8 guests with a joke, a pleasantry or sympathy for the weight of the world.

Ever the host, Obama stood under a canopy of oaks and poplars at dusk outside Camp David's Laurel Lodge to greet his G-8 guests. "Nice weather, huh," he said, acknowledging the photographers and reporters awaiting the arrival on a balmy spring evening. "Perfect, perfect."

Each dinner guest approached him separately and Obama greeted them by their first names

To Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in a bright blue jacket: "Dmitry, good to see you my friend, How are you?"

Medvedev: "Fine, Barack, not so bad."

Medvedev nodded at Laurel lodge and joked: "This is my new place."

To German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "Angela! ... How have you been?"

Merkel, faced with rebellions in Europe over austerity measures she has pushed, shrugged.

Obama: "Well, you have a few things on your mind."

All the guests but new French President Francois Hollande dressed casually, with open collars and blazers.

"Francois, we said you could take off the tie," Obama said, ribbing him.

Hollande smiled with a look of protest: "For my press..."

Obama responded: "For your press, you must look good."

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During the evening, Obama had a chocolate birthday cake delivered for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. His birthday is on May 20. The president wished him happy birthday and the leaders all applauded, but there was no singing.