From: Paul Conner [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 12:50 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP
Subject: In-town pool 1b: Gauck's Oval remarks
German Gauck spoke after Obama in the Oval Office. He spoke via a translator.
"Mr. President, I would like to thank you very much for having invited me. Your invitation reaches me at a time when I turned 75." He said that twice during his lifetime the U.S. has intervened positively in Germany.
He said the visit comes in that "broader historical context. Seventy years ago, Germany suffered a defeat ... that turned into liberation for the country. Many Americans gave their lives in order to bring out that liberation. Twenty-five years ago, my country became reunited. Then President George [H.]W. Bush and other Americans expressed their strong support early and early on. ... I cannot properly express our gratitude for that fact, and this is how I want my visit to be understood.
Gauck also mentioned his itinerary -- monuments in Philly and DC -- and said that his visit is "a kind of pilgrimage to the birthplace that embodies very important ideas, ideas that are important for the American people but also for the history of mankind." He said that while the two leaders would discuss important topics, "the relations between our countries on this solid, long-standing foundation."
"I am very grateful that you have raised a topic that has touched a burning issue ... the situation in Syria, which is very complicated and complex indeed. We are not yet in a position where we can claim that we have found the appropriate response to this problem, this crisis. And as the crisis unfolds, we are faced with another difficult situation for us, the influx of the great number of people who are fearing for their lives and are thus leaving their home country. Germany, because of its history, is a country that shows great readiness" to help "those who are in need. This issue has moved very much into the focus of political debate. ... We are quite aware that this is a major humanitarian challenge that we have to face."
He thanked Obama for the kind words about his personal life and said that he still remembers the joy that the German people felt when Obama first visited as a candidate. "Despite the disagreements and misunderstandings that occur once in a while," the countries are still close. Obama nodded when Gauck mentioned "disagreements and misunderstandings."
The presidents then shook hands, and pool was ushered out without either answering questions.
The Daily Caller