Washington: Despite Germany's abstention from the UN Security Council resolution on Libya, US President Barack Obama termed the country as a world leader and praised Berlin for playing an important role in the democratic transition currently underway in North Africa.

"Germany is playing an important role in responding to the democratic transitions that are underway in North Africa," a statement said on the eve of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to the United States.

 "I look forward to discuss with the Chancellor how we can enhance our work together to address more effectively the changes underway in the region including in Libya," Obama said.

"Germany is already a global leader and we are in constant contact with one other to coordinate our efforts," he said.

Obama said that Germany has some 7,000 troops deployed in several operations around the world and they make a significant contribution to international peace and security.

 "We especially appreciate its contributions to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan where Germany provides some 5,000 troops, making it the third largest national contingent."

"In addition, Germany commands the entire northern region, heads two Provincial Reconstruction Teams and provides the logistical support base for all ISAF forces in the area including several thousand US troops." Obama said.

The US President said, "Our hearts go out to the families of the more than 50 German soldiers" who have given their lives including several in recent weeks.

"As a member of NATO, Germany is part of NATO’s command structure and makes meaningful contributions to all NATO operations," he said.
 
Obama also commended Germany for recently deploying its AWACS surveillance planes in Afghanistan to free other NATO members' pilots and aircraft for the NATO operation in Libya.

Obama said he consults Merkel on every important issue on his international agenda and he appreciates the German Chancellor's pragmatism and straight talk.

"We don’t always agree on everything, no two allies do. But in our meetings and discussions, we always speak honestly and openly, as close friends should, and I believe that our approach to shared challenges is stronger because of it," he added.

 (Agencies)