The Presidential Planner

Today the President will welcome German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House for the first “Official Visit” by a female head of government during the Obama Administration.

In the morning, the president, the vice president, the first lady and Dr. Biden will welcome Merkel in an official ceremony on the South Lawn before the Chancellor and Obama head into the Oval Office to get to work. Later in the morning Obama and Merkel will meet with the U.S. and German delegations in the Cabinet Room.

The two leaders are expected to talk about the transitions in Egypt and Tunisia, the Middle East peace process, and global economic issues, among other things.

The pomp and circumstance of Monday’s official welcome will not be the first time that Obama and the chancellor are seeing each other on this visit. Last night the two leaders dined -- just the two of them -- at the Georgetown restaurant 1789. The restaurant boasts a “relaxed country-inn elegance” but don’t let the laid back atmosphere fool you, the restaurant has a steep price tag.

In contrast to their intimate dinner last night, tonight the president and the first lady will host a State Dinner in the Rose Garden for the chancellor.

Merkel’s visit is termed an “official” rather than a “state visit” because she is Germany’s head of government. The largely ceremonial head of State position is held by President Christian Wulff.

Why a “state dinner” if Merkel is not the official head of state?

“Officially it’s an official visit, with a state dinner,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained in Monday’s briefing. “We’re just awfully glad that she’s coming as head of government.”

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