Speaking in the northern German city of Hanover, Obama said the embattled Merkel had “demonstrated real political and moral leadership” in letting in more than 1.1 million people fleeing war and misery.

“What’s happening with respect to her position on refugees here, in Europe, she’s on the right side of history on this,” he said.

“She is giving voice to the kinds of principles that bring people together rather than divide them.”

While the reticent Merkel blushed at the glowing praise, German officials and commentators charged that Obama’s administration had done little to help her as Europe struggles with its biggest migrant crisis since World War II.