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Obama kicks off Europe leg of overseas trip

US Democratic presidential hopeful Barak Obama kicks off the European leg of his overseas trip in Berlin.

world Updated: Jul 24, 2008 19:43 IST

US Democratic presidential hopeful Barak Obama kicked off the European leg of his overseas trip in Berlin on Thursday, meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel hours before he will give a major speech on US-European relations.

Obama, shortly after arriving at Tegel Airpot, was ferried in a motorcade to a private meeting with Merkel at the chancellery, which sits across from the glass-domed Reichstags parliament building.

Berlin is the first step on a European leg that will also take Obama to France and Britain as part of an effort to burnish his foreign policy credentials as he campaigns against Republican John McCain for the US presidency.

Obama arrived in the German capital following visits to Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and Jordan.

He will cap his day with an open-air speech before an expected crowd of thousands that his campaign has described as a "substantive address on US-European relations."

After meeting with Merkel for about an hour, Obama left in a motorcade to the Hotel Adlon where President Gorge W Bush stayed in 2002, also the same hotel where pop singer Michael Jackson drew criticism for holding his child out of a window from his room later that year.

The hotel was closed off for 10 minutes while police specialists checked a suspicious package that was found to contain only a book. It was unclear whether Obama was in the building at the time.

Neither Obama nor Merkel said what they talked about, but yesterday she told reporters that she planned to discuss climate change and global free trade, and would also make clear that Germans will stand by his refusal to send combat troops to southern Afghanistan.

Around 100 police officer have been deployed during Obama's visit, which lasts through on Friday morning.