Obama expected at Protestant event in Berlin next month

Obama will also be participating in a discussion on democracy with Merkel.

Still, the two said their meeting last month was productive, and they reaffirmed the importance of the U.S. -Germany relationship.

While many thought the anti-immigrant party, Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) would be the biggest rival this year, it is turning out to be her own coalition partner Social Democratic Party (SPD), who candidate Martin Schultz has recently disavowed the US President Donald Trump call to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members to spend more on defense and abide by NATO's 2 percent GDP spending on defense rule.

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The party or parties that end up as the new German government after federal elections on 24 September, will be set to be in power until 2021. While the Social Democrats closed the gap with Merkel's Christian Democrat-led bloc after Schulz's nomination in January, several polls over the past week suggested that Merkel's CDU-CSU is pulling ahead again. He clashed with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting last month over the spending demands.

"I'm not of the opinion that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has agreed to achieve this 2 percent goal in defense spending", Schulz said at a Q&A with reporters Monday.

Former President Barack Obama plans to reemerge on the worldwide stage in late May, sitting down with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her home country for a panel discussion about democracy.

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Pressed on concerns among some voters about the SPD teaming up with Die Linke, Schulz added: "I want us to become the strongest party in this country and whoever, after the election, wants to enter into a government is welcome" to talk. "If I've interpreted this correctly, it's been stated that you can strive toward this goal". Gabriel has said a NATO-approved spending level in the middle of the next decade would be on the order of 70 billion euros a year.

The dueling appearances weren't intentional, according to German and U.S. officials.

Obama visited Germany six times as president, but he captured the hearts and minds of Germans before he was even elected. Only four European NATO states spend 2 percent or more of GDP on defense - the U.K., Greece, Estonia and Poland.

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He warned of "a policy which leads to having a highly armed army in the middle of Europe", and said that there should be "disarmament initiatives instead of an arms race".


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