Obama Begins G7 Trip With Lighthearted Meeting

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama walk during their meeting at the hotel castle Elmau in Kruen, Germany, June 7, 2015. Leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations met on Sunday in the Bavarian Alps for a summit overshadowed by Greece's debt crisis and ongoing violence in Ukraine. Daniel Karmann/Pool/Reuters

KRUEN, Germany (Reuters) - Joking that he wanted to buy a pair of lederhosen leather shorts, U.S. President Barack Obama drank beer and mixed with Bavarians in a light-hearted start to his trip to Germany, before turning to more serious talks on the conflict in Ukraine.

Introduced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama spoke warmly to a crowd of men in feather-plumed green hats and women in corseted dirndl dresses in the picture-postcard village of Kruen, at the foot of snow-speckled Alpine mountains.

"I have to admit that I forgot to bring my lederhosen but I'm going to see if I can buy some while I'm here," a smiling Obama told locals who were swigging beer and munching on weisswurst, or traditional Bavarian sausage, and pretzels.

The U.S. president, who is in Bavaria for a summit of the Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations, said he had hoped the meeting hosted by Merkel would coincide with Munich's annual Oktoberfest folk festival, which pays homage to beer.

"But then again there's never a bad day for a beer and a weisswurst and I can't think of a better place to come to celebrate the enduring friendship between the German and American people," he added.

He later sat down with Merkel and the locals in Bavarian dress to sample the beer and told reporters: "It was a very fine beer. I wish I was staying."

He and Merkel then headed off for talks on issues including the Ukraine crisis, climate change and extremism.