Obama to join Germany's Merkel in Berlin next month
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Former President Obama will join German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a forum in Berlin next month in his first appearance alongside a foreign leader since leaving office in January.

The discussion, titled "Being Involved in Democracy: Taking on Responsibility Locally and Globally," is in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which began in Germany in 1517. Obama was invited to Germany for the anniversary last May. The Obama Foundation is co-sponsoring the discussion.

"President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP rep: North Korea wants Iran-type nuclear deal Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight Iran's president warns US will pay 'high cost' if Trump ditches nuclear deal MORE’s attending the Kirchentag in Berlin, which will ring in the Reformation Summer, underlines the international character of our 500th anniversary celebrations," Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, the Evangelical Church in Germany Council chair, said in a statement.

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"Anyone who is pious also has to be politically minded," he added. "I am looking forward to enthusiastic debates during the Reformation Summer 2017."

Despite tensions that emerged after revelations in 2013 that the National Security Agency had tapped Merkel's and other German officials' phone lines, the American and German leaders were seen as having a cooperative relationship. During a trip to Germany in November, Obama called Merkel his "closest ally."

President Trump, however, has been more critical of the German leader for what he has called open-border policies and Germany's willingness to offer asylum to refugees. 

Trump met with Merkel for the first time at the White House last month.