WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will welcome German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House on Thursday in what is expected to be his last visit to Washington as head of state.
Thursday’s meetings will be far more amicable than the notoriously difficult confrontations between Merkel and former President Donald Trump, who fought everything from NATO dues to taunts the US president on Twitter.
But there will be contentious issues on the agenda when Biden and Merkel sit down for a private one-on-one meeting. Among the most difficult: the brutal split between the United States and Germany over Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline that would connect Russia to Germany and which the United States fears giving Moscow increased weight on it. ‘Europe.
A senior administration official said Biden would raise his objections to the pipeline with Merkel and stress “the importance of developing concrete mechanisms to ensure that energy is not used as a coercive tool against Ukraine “or other allies.
The official, who briefed reporters on the Biden-Merkel meeting on condition of anonymity, defended the White House’s decision to drop sanctions on German companies involved in the construction of the pipeline, a move that sparked bipartisan criticism from congressional lawmakers. Biden’s advisers said the pipeline was nearing completion before he took office and it was now too late to shut him down.
The decision to lift the sanctions gave the United States “diplomatic space” to work with Germany on the negative impacts of the pipeline, the administration official said, although the source said the White House would not. not expected to announce progress on the dispute.
Merkel has her own goals for the visit.
“It’s partly a farewell visit, partly it signals the continuity and stability of German-American relations,” said Johannes Timm, senior researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, a group of reflection in Berlin.
After 16 years of working with Merkel, many officials in Washington and elsewhere are wondering what direction Germany might take after the next election. The longtime chancellor – who has dealt with four US presidents in her time – will seek to reassure them that there will not be a huge change, he said.
The two world leaders are expected to discuss a range of other issues, from climate change and the COVID pandemic to the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan. She will also meet with Vice-President Kamala Harris on Thursday morning.
Biden has made it a priority to repair America’s relations with its European allies in the wake of Trump’s antagonistic approach to the bloc, which has been marked by punitive tariffs, diplomatic slights and heated debates over multilateralism and NATO.
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Trump clashed with Merkel on several occasions, and before his term ended he ordered the withdrawal of US forces from Germany in what many saw as a public reprimand against him. Biden has put an end to this reduction of forces and will take advantage of this meeting to underline the “solid partnership” between Washington and Berlin.
It will also pay tribute to Merkel’s leadership in Germany and Europe as she prepares to leave the political scene, the official said.
Merkel’s party leads the polls ahead of the September 26 election in Germany, but Green environmentalists and center-left Social Democrats are also vying to lead a future government.
Contribution: Associated Press
After:Trump condemns US ally Germany as ‘Russia captive’ during tense NATO summit opening