Washington – President Joe Biden praised باي German Chancellor Angela Merkel On Thursday, during what is likely to be her last visit to Washington as head of state, noting that she was the first female chancellor of Germany, and her tenure continued through four US presidents.
At a White House news conference, Biden praised Merkel for her “strong and principled leadership” and “failure to stand up for human dignity.”
“This is an exemplary life of leading service for Germany, and I can add … to the world,” Biden said as Merkel stood by his side.
Despite Biden’s applause for the German leader, there were contentious issues on the agenda when they earlier sat down for a one-on-one private meeting. Among the hardest: The sharp division between the United States and Germany has ended Nord Stream 2, gas pipeline From Russia to Germany and that US concerns will give Moscow increasing influence over Europe.
Biden said he raised concerns about the pipeline with Merkel and that the two leaders agreed to look for “practical measures” that could be taken to ensure that energy was not used as a coercive tool against Ukraine or other allies.
While the two leaders did not announce any pipeline breaches, Merkel stressed the importance of Ukraine’s right to be a “transit country” for natural gas, but she also stressed its right to territorial sovereignty “like any other country in the world.”
A senior administration official, who briefed reporters before the Biden-Merkel meeting on condition of anonymity, defended the White House’s decision to drop sanctions on German companies involved in building the pipeline, a move that drew bipartisan criticism from lawmakers in Congress. Biden’s advisers said the pipeline was nearly complete before he took office and that it was now too late to stop it.
Travel between the United States and Europe
In another issue, there has been growing frustration in European capitals over the US’s refusal to lift its pandemic restrictions on travel from the bloc, even as coronavirus cases in Germany, France and other EU countries decline amid the launch of vaccines.
Biden indicated that a decision on the travel ban could be issued within days.
“It’s in the making,” he said when pressed by a German reporter on the issue. “I’m waiting to hear from…our COVID team about when to do this.”
Merkel said she raised the issue in her meeting with Biden and noted that the highly contagious delta type of coronavirus was a factor, saying it was a challenge for both the United States and Germany.
“It must be a sustainable decision,” she said, adding that it would not be “reasonable to take it back” once travel restrictions are lifted.
The two leaders discussed a host of other issues, from climate change to the coronavirus pandemic to the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan.
Thursday’s meetings were far more cordial than the infamous confrontations between Merkel and Merkel Former President Donald Trump, who wrestled over everything from NATO dues To criticism of the President of the United States on Twitter.
In the Oval Office at the start of their meeting, Biden praised Merkel as “a great friend, a personal friend and a friend of the United States.”
Merkel stressed “how much I appreciate the friendship with the United States of America.”
“We are more than aware of America’s contribution to a free and democratic Germany,” she said. “So I am very much looking forward to deepening the relationship again.”
Merkel has her own goals of the visit.
“This is partly a farewell visit, and partly a sign of the continuity and stability of German-American relations,” said Johannes Thiem, senior fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, a Berlin think tank.
After 16 years of working with Merkel, many officials in Washington and elsewhere are wondering what course Germany might take after the next election. He said the longtime chancellor – who had dealt with four US presidents at the time – had sought to reassure them that there would be no major turnaround.
Merkel began her visit at the Naval Observatory over a “working breakfast” with Vice President Kamala Harris. This is the first time Harris has hosted a foreign leader at the vice president’s residence.
Harris praised Merkel’s “extraordinary career” and noted that Biden is the fourth US president to host her.
“It goes without saying that the relationship between our two countries is based on many common values, including a commitment to democracy around the world,” Harris said in brief public remarks upon Merkel’s arrival.
Biden did it A priority to repair America’s relationship With its European allies in the wake of Trump’s hostile approach to the bloc, which has been marked by punitive tariffs, diplomatic flouting, and heated debates about multilateralism and NATO.
Trump repeatedly clashed with Merkel, and before his term expired, he ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Germany in what many saw as a public reprimand of her. Biden halted that troop reduction, stressing during Thursday’s press conference the partnership between Washington and Berlin as Merkel prepares to leave the political stage after more than 15 years as chancellor.
Merkel’s party is leading in opinion polls ahead of Germany’s September 26 elections, but the environmental activist Greens and the centre-left Social Democrats are also vying to lead a future government.
Contributing: Associated Press