President heads back to Washington on AF1 after morning meeting on Afghanistan working session, bilat with Karzai and EU/US summit on final day in Portugal.
Pool Report #9:
At 7:55 pm the pool is in the motorcade, having been rushed out immediately after Van Rompuy, Barroso and Obama made statements (in that order) after under 2 hours of summitry.
You have EU-US joint statement separately on economic, security and foreign policy objectives.
As POTUS put it, “This summit was not as exciting as other summits because we basically agree on eveything.”
He added, “But nevertheless I value these meetings for a simple reason: america’s relationship with our european allies and partners is the cornerstone of our engagement with the world.”
Van Rompuy announced that a US-EU working group will in a year have a comprehensive data protection plan, and hailed the cooperation on Iran sanctions as essential for making them work. It was “a fruitful summit … We see eye-to-eye.”
Barroso praised it as “a “very intimate, friendly, productive summit” where the leaders didn’t talk from notes but had “a real exchange.”
After uneventful drive we are at af1 and by 8:10 POTUS got aboard the plane unseen by your pool; the stairs were being rolled away.
Pool Report #3:
No news from a photo op/break in the Afghanistan meeting: When asked how the meeting is going, POTUS simply noted he’d have a press avail later today.
Just after 11:30 am local time, POTUS came to a tented area adjoining the convention hall to indulge a passion — examining an electric car and plugging (no pun intended) American exports.
The white Opel Ampera with aqua design trim has the same technology as GM’s Chevy Volt and will be marketed in Europe along with the Volt starting in late 2011, according to Guillermo Sarmiento, managing director of GM Portugal, and Volker Hoff, vice president of Opel. The Ampera has a different body – especially a more streamlined front, they said, to suit Europeans’ tastes.
The model car was made at GM in Detroit, which also will manufacture the cars to follow; no decision has been made whether to build a manufacturing plant in Europe, the men told your pooler. While the cars run on a battery, the battery is powered by a combustion engine that kicks in at high speeds and when a driver does not have access to a charge station.
“This is a nice lookin’ car,” Obama said to the men as he approached them. Sarmiento opened the driver door and POTUS got in. “Ready to go,” said the man in the driver’s seat, with a glance toward the pool. “Fire it up.”
Sarmiento went around to the passenger seat while Hoff crouched next to POTUS, and he did fire it up. “Can’t hear it, can you?” he said to the pool. Indeed, all we heard was a bell going off because his door remained open.
He remained in the car a few minutes while the three engaged in talk about its operation and Volt technology that the pool couldn’t hear. Once out, Sarmiento handed him a pen and Obama autographed the rear quarter panel on the driver’s side. Next he examined the trunk space.
Then he turned to the pool and called the Ampera “another example of GM technology that is going to have great appeal here in Europe.” He added, “Our hope is we’re going to market this all through Europe.” And waving toward the car, he said, “This is the future right here.”
FYI, some other leaders have boasted of using electric cars during the summit. But, of course, security demands that POTUS stick with that gas-guzzler The Beast, also from GM, Cadillac division.
Pool Report 2b:
Your pooler has now seen additional stills from the very last US photogs to leave the meeting room as the Afghanistan session came to order. Karzai did not remain seated but rose fully when President Obama came over to greet him and shake hands.
And while I’m at it, the correct spelling of the name of the prime minister of Australia is Julia Gillard.
Pool Report #2:
POTUS passed right by your pool as Portuguese security pushed us into place, and grinned at the little melee, saying to us, “Watch out.”
Several hundred diplomats are milling and beginning to take their places; Obama has been in a huddle with roughly a dozen folks at a time, as officials come and go with introductory smiles and handshakes, including the Australian prime minister, Julia Gilliad (sp?). With him are Hilary Clinton, Ambassador Ivo Daalder, national security adviser Tom Donilon.
At about 8:45 Petraeus has entered, and talked with Angela Merkel. Hamid Karzai also arrived in usual distinctive tunic, black, green and gold, and was immediately obscured by a passel of photogs. Doesn’t appear to have come near POTUS and Co. After a greeting from British PM David Cameron, Karzai took his seat.
POTUS is now found — he’s been making his way around the large roundtable, gripping and greeting so that he’s now directly in front of the fenced-in pool but not close enough to here. (He couldn’t be farther from Karzai, sitting opposite.
At 9:08 the Secretary General, Rasmussen, is opening the session, a hatless Karzai to his right; three leaders sit between Karzai and Obama.
We’re ejected at 9:10.
Bulletin — the last US reporters out of the room caught Obama rising and going over to shake hands with Karzai, who remained seated, according to their stills.