WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama sits down this week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel under a cloud of disagreement over the way out of the global financial crisis and Germany's role in the U.S.-led Afghan war.

The Germans probably will stand pat on their refusal to increase troop strength significantly to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Merkel's unusually harsh public criticism of U.S. financial policy appears to be driven by domestic politics - the chancellor's need to appear tough in advance of September elections.

"We will discuss the situation in Iran, the question of North Korea's nuclear program and, of course, our joint efforts toward stabilization and security in Afghanistan," Merkel told reporters in Berlin ahead of her departure today.

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