The Obama campaign, confirming in part early reports out of Berlin, said the senator will not speak at the Brandenburg Gate, despite earlier inquiries about its availability as a backdrop for a significant speech on the trans-Atlantic relations. German Chancellor Angela Merkel onced termed the request "a bit odd."
The announcement came in an on-the-record conference call that for the first time announced the countries Obama will visit, in addition to the previously announced congressional delegation visit to Afghanistan and Iraq (though not necessarily in that order) with Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. The other nations on Obama's itinerary are: Jordan, Israel, a trip to the Palestinian Territories (loation to be determined, but not Gaza), Germany, France and Great Britain.
Here is the verbatim take on the Brandenburg Gate issue from Dennis McDonough, a top Obama foreign policy coordinator and adviser, and senior communications adviser and counselor, Robert Gibbs.
"We are looking at a variety of locations in Germany and will pick one that we believe meets our needs and also the needs of our German hosts, the interests of our German hosts. The one thing that Barack made clear to us very early is that he didn't think it made sense at all for him to speak at the Brandenburg Gate which he thought would be, perhaps, too presumptuous. But other than that we are looking at a variety of locations and Sen. Obama will choose one that meets both his goals and also the goals of our German hosts."
“Well, there is no precedent for that (a candidate speech at the Brandenburg Gate) and that is not what we are doing. The speech in Berlin will be a substantive speech about American and European relations. The trip is not at all a campaign trip -- a rally of any sort. As Dennis (McDonough) just outlined, it’s a series of substantive meetings with our friends and our allies to talk about the common challenges that we face and the national security dangers for the 21st century."
The campaign also announced the leaders Obama will meet on this trip:
In Jordan, King Abdullah.
In Israel, Prime Miniseter Ehud Olmert, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister and Labour Party Leader Ehud Barak, Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the Palestinian Territories, Fatah Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), and Paletstinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy.
In Great Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Tory leader David Cameron.