* Differences over foreign and economic policies
* Obama to present Merkel with Medal of Freedom
By Jeff Mason and Andreas Rinke
WASHINGTON, June 7 U.S. President Barack Obama
and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will air their differences
over fiscal policy, the Eurozone crisis and the war in Libya on
Tuesday in a meeting meant to illustrate a strong partnership.
The two leaders will meet amid the pomp and circumstance of
an official visit and a formal state dinner, but the shadow of
global economic and security problems still looms.
Obama and Merkel have not hidden their disagreements in the
past. Obama favored more government stimulus spending during
the global economic crisis while Merkel pressed for fiscal
austerity. The United States endorsed military action in Libya;
Germany confounded its NATO partners by refusing to take part.
The Eurozone debt crisis may be the latest issue the two
leaders will tussle over. Obama cited the crisis as one in a
handful of foreign "headwinds" affecting the U.S. economy.
But as Greece started a campaign to secure a new
international bailout, Obama's administration made clear it
expects Europe -- and, by default, wealthy Germany -- to take
care of the problem. [ID:nLDE7550KZ]
Asked whether the United States would back using additional
International Monetary Fund money to help Greece further, White
House spokesman Jay Carney said Europe had the means to help
Greece on its own.
"They have said that they will do whatever is necessary to
tackle this problem and we believe it is completely within
their capacity to do that," Carney said.
Washington faces a debt challenge, too, and Merkel could
rebuff Obama's calls about Greece by saying the United States
must get its own fiscal problems under control.
The White House is leading talks with Republican and
Democratic lawmakers to try to agree a deal on long-term
Merkel is also expected to emphasize Europe's support for
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde's candidacy to
replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as IMF chief.
The United States has not offered public support for
Lagarde, saying instead it wants to see the best candidate get
the job -- a nod to developing countries, who object to
Europe's traditional hold on the position.
Obama will present Merkel with the Medal of Freedom -- the
highest U.S. civilian award -- during her visit.
He said in an interview with a German newspaper that the
two leaders would not always see eye to eye.
"We don't always agree on everything; no two allies do," he
told Der Tagesspiegel. "But in our meetings and discussions, we
always speak honestly and openly, as close friends should, and
I believe that our approach to shared challenges is stronger
because of it." [ID:nN05221411]
(Editing by Christopher Wilson)