Europe gives Obama rock star-like welcome

April 3, 2009 at 9:57 AM
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STRASBOURG, France, April 3 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama was greeted like a rock star Friday in Strasbourg, France, the site of the 60th anniversary NATO summit.

People lining up Friday to see Obama near the Rohan Palace erupted in cheers when the president, accompanied by his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, approached the crowd to shake hands with them. A young woman, visibly excited, tried to hug and kiss the U.S. president.

After talks with Sarkozy, Obama addressed roughly 3,000 French and German students at a town hall-style meeting in Strasbourg. When he called for a "world without nuclear weapons," the crowd erupted in cheers and long applause.

To many Europeans, Obama represents a significant change from the previous president, who was widely unpopular in Europe.

"I like him, he is so charismatic, everybody likes him here," said Elise Peter, a 15-year-old student from Strasbourg, who had waited for hours in the concert hall to listen to the president.

Obama after the town hall meeting continued on to Baden-Baden, just across the border in Germany, where NATO leaders convene for a working dinner hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is Obama's first trip to Europe as president.

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