UK & World News
Obama Speaks In Berlin 50 Years After JFK
President Obama has used a visit to Berlin to call for a reduction in the number of nuclear weapons deployed by the US and Russia, and to defend the controversial Prism surveillance programme.
The city has been the venue for historic pronouncements by US Presidents before: John F Kennedy famously declared "Ich bin ein Berliner" 50 years ago, while Ronald Reagan asked President Gorbachev to "tear down this wall".
In this speech, the current American leader told an invited audience at the Brandenburg Gate that he would like to see nuclear arsenals in Russia and the US slimmed down further.
He said: "After a comprehensive review, I've determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one third."
The Russian response to President Obama's offer for talks on reducing nuclear weapons was far from promising.
President Vladimir Putin reiterated Moscow's concerns about anti-missile shields in Europe and the level of accuracy now possible with America's conventional weapons.
Moscow also said it wanted other powers as well as Russia and the US to be involved in any discussions on future nuclear arms cuts.
Both men discuss non-proliferation when they met on the sidelines of a G8 summit in Northern Ireland this week.
Mr Obama last visited Berlin's Tiergarten in 2008 when he was still a senator for Illinois, receiving a rock star welcome from a crowd of 200,000 people.
As the crowd chanted his campaign slogan "Yes We Can", his political rivals back in the US used the event to mock his status as an international celebrity, rather than a weighty candidate capable of rescuing America from the growing economic crisis.
Some harsh editorials in the German press suggest Barack Obama's political patina has been tarnished since he moved into the White House.
Frankfurter Allgemeine noted that there has been a "gradual cooling of enthusiasm" amongst Germans for the US President, now in his second term.
It cites a number of different issues: America's continued use of unmanned drones, the "Prism" surveillance scandal in which German Facebook users saw their data passed to US intelligence services and the failure of the administration to close Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
President Obama sought to defend Prism saying the US was not "rifling through Germans' emails".
He said: "All of it is done under the oversight of the courts. And as a consequence, we've saved lives.
"We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but, in some cases, threats here in Germany. So lives have been saved."
Chancellor Angela Merkel was cool in her response, suggesting any programme had to be "proportionate" and balanced with protections for civil liberties.
There is also a growing gulf between the US President and the German Chancellor over how to address the continuing slump besetting the global economy.
While he favours stimulus and quantative easing to kick-start the US economy, Angela Merkel still believes in budgetary restraint both in Germany and among other Eurozone countries.
The US administration has urged leaders in Europe to reconsider austerity as the sole policy response, and to use investment to trigger a return to growth.