Chancellor Merkel is received by US President Biden | free press


Washington (AP) – On her probably last trip to Washington, where Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is received today by US President Joe Biden at the White House.

The visit should mark a new beginning in German-American relations after a low point in the era of Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump. Merkel is the first European head of government to receive Biden in the White House since he took office in January. For the chancellor, it should be the farewell visit to Washington. Merkel will no longer run in September’s Bundestag elections.

Including Nord Stream 2

The meeting will include topics such as the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline, which will bring Russian gas to Germany, beyond Ukraine. The project is the biggest point of contention between the US and Germany. Both parties have been trying to find a compromise for weeks and, according to Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, have come closer on many points. Before her trip, Merkel was skeptical about whether there would be a definitive solution if she visited Biden.

Other topics on Merkel’s working visit include dealings with China and Russia, the looming situation in Afghanistan shortly before the end of the international military operation and the corona pandemic. Before the visit, many organizations called on the chancellor to give up her opposition to a weakening of patent protection for corona vaccines. Biden has spoken out in favor of temporarily suspending patent protection in the global fight against the pandemic.

Ahead of Merkel’s and Biden’s meeting, the federal government’s transatlantic coordinator hopes to reach an agreement on US travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic. “The US should relax its corona access restrictions to the Schengen area,” said Peter Beyer of the “Rheinische Post”. The EU has decided to make it easier for travelers from the United States to enter the European Union. In the opposite direction, however, strict conditions still apply. Foreign Minister Maas said on Wednesday that he does not expect any movement on the matter during Merkel’s visit to the United States.

Honorary doctorate for Merkel

Ahead of her White House talks, Merkel will have breakfast with US Vice President Kamala Harris today. After that, a meeting with representatives of the American economy is scheduled. The chancellor will then receive an honorary degree from Johns Hopkins University. She will also give a speech on that occasion. The university praised Merkel in advance as a “global leader of unparalleled determination and integrity”. The chancellor not only led Germany, “but was also a beacon for the world in times of crisis, from the great recession to the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Ahead of Merkel’s return trip, President and First Lady Jill Biden will host a dinner in honor of the Chancellor. According to the White House, Merkel’s husband Joachim Sauer will also participate. Biden is seeking to restore relations with Germany and other US allies who have been under severe strain under Trump. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki had said before Merkel’s visit: “Your visit will reaffirm deep and lasting bilateral relations between the United States and Germany.” Biden had invited Merkel to the sidelines of the G7 summit in Britain last month.

Biden’s predecessor Trump saw Germany more as a competitor and less as an ally. The Republican had repeatedly criticized Germany’s defense spending, Germany’s trade surplus and Nord Stream 2. Democrat Biden now relies on cooperation – even though the issues remain controversial. Nord Stream 2 is still the largest of these. The US and some Eastern European NATO partners fear that Europe is too dependent on the Russian energy supply and therefore reject the project.