The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

June 14, 2013

European growth still on US agenda, not as loudly

(Continued)

Obama is scheduled to arrive in Northern Ireland on Monday and immediately deliver a speech in Belfast largely focused on U.S. support for the peace process there. He'll meet with G-8 leaders at the summit site, including a one-on-one meeting with Putin, said Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.

After the summit ends, Obama will head to Berlin for meetings with German officials, including Merkel. The two will address reporters at a news conference afterward before Obama delivers a speech on the eastern side of the historic Brandenburg Gate. Obama also will be the guest of honor at a reception and dinner hosted by Merkel.

First lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha will accompany the president, and largely keep a separate schedule that includes a stop at Trinity College in Ireland to explore the president's Irish ancestry, White House spokesman Ben Rhodes said.

Despite some improvement, the European economic picture remains bleak. The eurozone economy contracted about 0.8 percent in the first quarter, compared with the same period in 2012. Among the G-8 members, Italy and France saw their gross domestic product shrink 2.4 percent and 0.4 percent respectively over the first quarter of 2012. Germany, the region's largest economy, and Britain saw modest growth in the first quarter, but still sharply lower than other G-8 members.

Russia saw annual growth of 1.6 percent in the first quarter, the U.S. grew at 2.4 percent, Canada at 2.5 percent and Japan at 4.1 percent.

"The European Central Bank continues to be too tight," said Robert Shapiro, a former commerce undersecretary who also advised President Bill Clinton. "The debate over austerity is far from over in England or in Germany. Moreover, right under the surface of all this remains the sovereign debt crisis. It has not been resolved."

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