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Diplomacy

Berlin nostalgia as Secretary of State Kerry meets Merkel

US Secretary of State John Kerry has been visiting Berlin, where he met with his German and Russian opposite numbers as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel. There was also chance for a walk down memory lane.

Standing alongside Kerry, Merkel said that trans-Atlantic relations had a great importance. "We do only have common values but also many common aims," she said.

As an example, the chancellor cited the conflict in Syria and the NATO-led operations in Afghanistan.

Kerry pushes EU-US trade deal at Berlin talks

Kerry's European visit takes in several major European capitals. It is his first trip abroad since taking office this month. On the agenda will be Afghanistan and plans for a trans-Atlantic trade agreement.

The secretary of state said the deal would be "a really unique opportunity ... we think this is something that can lift the economy in Europe and strengthen our own economy."

"It's a window of opportunity that we need to seize in the interest of growth, and jobs for Germany, the United States and Europe."

In the press conference, Kerry also reminisced about living in Berlin during his youth, when his father was stationed in the city as an American diplomat during the 1950s.

Biking around Berlin

It was a theme Kerry had spoken about earlier in the day when he met with young Germans to hear their views about relations between Europe and the US. There, he observed the differences he had seen between East and West Berlin when, as a 12-year-old, he biked between the two parts of the divided city using a diplomatic passport.

"As a 12-year-old, I saw the difference between East and West," he later told the students. "I never made another trip like that. But I have never forgotten it. And now, it's vanished, vanished."

Kerry also held talks in Berlin with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, seeking to resolve differences between the two powers on Syria. The meeting came in light of tensions between Moscow and Washington over a ban on US citizens adopting Russian children.

Lavrov told Russian newswires that the talks had been "quite constructive." Meanwhile, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the two had met for an hour and 45 minutes in what she described as a "really serious and hardworking session."

The secretary of state earlier met his German counterpart, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. At the press conference that followed, Kerry opened in German, remarking upon how pleased he was to be in Berlin once again.

Kerry, who started his nine-country dash through Europe in Britain, next heads to France.

rc/jr (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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