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UK's Clegg charms Berlin with German skills

AFP · 10 Jun 2010, 18:26

Published: 10 Jun 2010 18:26 GMT+02:00

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"I find the famous Berlin fresh air very refreshing," the Liberal Democrat leader told reporters in fluent German after talks with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in Berlin, before talking up the importance of bilateral relations.

But perhaps to the relief of Clegg's notoriously monolingual compatriots - he speaks five tongues - he was not completely at ease with the grammatical minefield that is the German language, quickly switching to English.

His efforts won him praise from Westerwelle, who famously told off a BBC journalist for asking him to answer a question in English last year, telling Clegg his German was "excellent."

Clegg was on a visit to Berlin together with Foreign Secretary William Hague from the Conservatives, with whom Clegg's party last month formed Britain's first coalition government since World War II.

Hague said it was the first time that two cabinet ministers from the two different parties in the coalition had travelled outside Britain together.

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"[This] is the first time in the lifetime of anybody in this room that this has happened. So it is important for our good relations with Germany, but it is a small piece of history," Hague said - in English.

Prime Minister David Cameron visited Berlin for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 21.

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Your comments about this article

20:11 June 10, 2010 by Clapoti
Mr Westerwelle was probably not feeling very proud of his own language skills ;)
02:05 June 11, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Roger Federer is fluently multilingual and has actually accomplished something in his life. Maybe he should consider a political career if multilingualism is the most important criterion. On second thought, I take that back. Federer has class and dignity, and would therefore never qualify as a politician.
08:02 June 11, 2010 by Celeon
So he has a little bit in common with the royal family which changed its name from Saxe Coburg and Gotha to Windsor during ww1.

I remember this episode of Blackadder in which he interrogates Captain Darling in suspicion of him being a german spy.

"This is rediculous Blackadder ! Im not a hun spy, im as british as queen Victoria !"

"So basically you are confessing that your father was german, you are half-german and you married a german ??"

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