ELMAU, Germany (AP) — Trade, terrorism and the global economy are high on the agenda of leaders gathered in Germany today for the Group of Seven leading industrial nations summit.
President Barack Obama is calling the current partnership between the U.S. and Germany "one of the strongest alliances the world has ever known."
Obama opened his German visit today by appearing in the picturesque Alpine village of Kruen with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama is closer to Merkel than most heads of state although their relationship was tested over the past two years following revelations that the National Security Agency had tapped her cellphone.
Obama says G7 leaders will discuss the global economy, European Union, trade, Russian-Ukraine, violent extremism and climate change.
He told a crowd of beer-sipping locals that on these issues, world leaders are grateful for the "leadership and partnership of your chancellor."
European Union President Donald Tusk is urging leaders at the summit to present a united front on maintaining sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine.
Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, says the only question is whether to make the sanctions even tougher.
He told a news conference Sunday that "if anyone wants to start a debate about the sanctions regime, the discussion could only be about strengthening them."
The U.S. and the European Union have imposed financial restrictions on Russian companies and individuals over Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. They and NATO say Russian troops and military equipment are in eastern Ukraine — something Russia denies.
Tusk said the summit in Bavaria could "reconfirm the G-7 unity on the sanctions policy."
Tusk also said G-7 protests are a sign of a healthy democracy.
Tusk says the Group of Seven world leaders have no need to apologize for their meeting Sunday and Monday in the Bavarian Alps. He says the gathering of industrialized democracies is "the best guarantee" that freedom and pluralism will survive.
A range of anti-capitalist and other groups have gathered to protest against the G-7 annual summit, but have been kept at a distance by thousands of German police.
Tusk, who is attending the gathering, said Sunday that in G-7 nations "people can demonstrate, can think what they want, say what they want and even look like they want."