US President Joe Biden and his German counterpart, Chancellor Angela Merkel, proceeded on Thursday to rebuild the deteriorating transatlantic relationship during the president’s official visit to the White House. The leaders of the world’s fourth and largest economies respectively addressed a wide range of issues, including the controversial Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Merkel’s visit, the first by a European president since Biden took office in January, also marked her last trip to Washington after almost 16 years at the helm of Europe’s largest economy. The current German Chancellor will leave her post once the next elections are held in September.
During their meeting of just over an hour and a half, the two discussed a wide range of topics, including combating the threat of climate change , the pandemic, as well as security and regional challenges .
In this regard, Biden reiterated his concern over the completion of the $ 11 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline . This unrest around the pipeline stems from Moscow’s history of using the energy sector as a way to influence its European neighbors.
If completed, the pipeline will stretch 1,229 kilometers from Russia to Germany, making it one of the longest in the world. Last month, the Kremlin said there were only slightly less than 100 kilometers left to complete the project.
In May, Washington suspended the sanctions imposed on the Swiss company Nord Stream 2 AG, which is leading the construction of the gas pipeline, and its German CEO. The waiver offered Berlin three more months to reach an agreement with the Biden Administration.
The US government justified its decision by pointing to the fact that the pipeline is 90% complete and expressing its belief that the imposition of sanctions would be “counterproductive” for US relations with Europe.
This truce between the United States and Germany over Nord Stream 2 could culminate in possible German aid to Eastern European allies such as Poland and Ukraine. The latter houses gas pipelines that channel Russian gas exports to Western Europe and is concerned that Moscow may turn off the tap once the new pipeline is operational.
Biden and Merkel also addressed the US’s global foreign policy initiative to contain China . China has overtaken the US as Germany’s largest trading partner and, although it is not its largest export market, it is still one of the most important for German companies. That is why the chancellor has shown her skepticism about the potential disengagement of China in a globalized economy.
The meeting at the White House and the subsequent press conference was followed by a dinner offered by the president and the first lady of the United States to the chancellor and her husband, Joachim Sauer, which demonstrated the progress made in overcoming the disputes generated during the Administration. of Donald Trump.