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Washington Unplugged: German Ally Looks To Europe Before U.S.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Germany has maintained strong relations with the United States, an expert said today on Washington Unplugged, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel will likely put the priorities of the European Union ahead of the United States on issues like dealing with prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and climate change.

Merkel made a great effort with former President George W. Bush to maintain good relations, said Gerry Livingston of the American Institute For Contemporary Germany Studies. President Obama's great popularity in Germany, however, makes that a lot easier.

While Merkel and Mr. Obama were largely in agreement on issues they discussed today at the White House, Livingston said Merkel will not have the final say on whether Germany will accept any Guantanamo Bay prisoners within its boundaries.

"The (German) executive branch does not have as much power relative in foreign policy as the American president does," he says. "Every troop increase in Afghanistan -- the parliament has to approve that."

Merkel's encouragement for climate change legislation the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on today also stems from her European objectives, Livingston says, given that she led climate change reform in Europe as head of the European Union.

"She wants to be able to show her public she helped bring the U.S. along," he said.

You can watch the whole Washington Unplugged interview below, with a discussion about the latest from Iran, a retrospective of Michael Jackson's 1984 trip the White House and an interview with a former White House chef.

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