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GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany — Before getting down to business at the two-day G-7 summit, U.S. President Barack Obama drank in some local Bavarian culture. Especially beer.
Police officers lined the roads as Obama's motorcade left the G-7 host site for the small town of Kruen, where local residents in traditional Bavarian outfits awaited the president’s arrival.
Joking that he "forgot to bring his lederhosen," Obama told the crowd that he would "see if I can buy some while I'm here."
Obama sampled the local traditions as world leaders were gathering for the G-7 meeting at Germany's Schloss Elmau resort.
Ahead of the meetings, Obama praised the relationship between the U.S. and Germany as "one of the strongest alliances the world has ever known."
He said world leaders at the G-7 summit would discuss standing up to Russian "aggression" in Ukraine, the global economy and combating the threats from violent extremism and climate change. The nuclear pact being negotiated with Iran also is expected to be discussed.
"These are all difficult challenges," Obama acknowledged, saying that the example of post-war Germany offers proof that "conflicts can end and great progress is possible."
Until last year, the G-7 included Russia and was thus called the G-8. But the June 2014 summit was held without President Vladimir Putin to protest the country's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region. With little sign of the fighting in eastern Ukraine ending despite a ceasefire deal agreed in Minsk more than three months ago, the exclusion has continued for a second year.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "delighted" to welcome and show Obama the "beautiful part" of her country before the "hard work" ahead at the summit.
Obama — who sat with Merkel and her husband in the town square for pretzels, beer and sausage as Bavarian brass music played in the background — did make one request of his host.
"We should have all our summit meetings in this incredible village center and drink beer," the president said to laughter.
German police reported minor protests around the summit, with one small group of protesters briefly blocking a local highway.