VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Chancellor, thank you very much. It's a delight to be back in Germany. I -- the President, since I'm the Vice President, sends me mostly to Afghanistan and Iraq. It's a pleasure to be back in Germany. And it's a pleasure to see you again.
By the way, the President sends his personal regards. As you know, he has a high regard for you and it was a pleasure to witness you receive the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor the United States can give, and extremely well-deserved.
Germany is an absolutely essential, critical partner, and the Transatlantic Alliance continues to be the basis upon which our entire relationship with the world (inaudible). Without a strong Europe, close ties to Europe, it is not conceivable how American interests can be -- can be met around the world.
We have a great deal to talk about. I have been spending a good deal of time meeting with (inaudible) Iraq. I know we have a keen mutual interest. But also I'm anxious to tell you how we're going to -- why I think we're in the very good shape in terms of our so-called fiscal crisis, as it's always characterized. I think it's less of a crisis than people think.
And I also really appreciate your expression of sympathy for the -- I don't have much detail, but it's characterized obviously as a terrorist attack on our embassy in Ankara. And to the best of our knowledge, there have been some injured. We don't have the detail yet, but it reinforces what has been the case since I have been in public life, particularly the last 15 years -- the very close counterterrorism cooperation that exists between Germany and the United States.
So we have much to talk about and I'm anxious to get that underway, and again, I want to thank you for your hospitality. It's a delight to be back.
One of my grown sons and his spouse are with me on this trip. And as we were getting off the plane, he looked at me and he said, Dad, it's great to be back in Berlin. He said, you remember the first time you took me here? And I hadn't remembered. He said, I was 15 years old, and you took me through Checkpoint Charlie. And (inaudible) since then, so this magnificent sight and this reunited country with such power and influence is -- it's a delight to be here again, and particularly to be with you, Chancellor.
Thank you all very much.