German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits the White House today to meet with the President and Vice President on issues including the Nord Stream Pipeline, security, and COVID-19. Delaney Tarr reports on what to expect from the visit.
President Joe Biden is set to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel today as part of an ongoing effort to repair a strained relationship between nations. Merkel’s visit is the first by a European leader since Biden took office in January.
A senior administration official said the meeting will “affirm the deep and enduring bilateral ties between our two countries.” Merkel is set to have a working breakfast at Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence. Later in the day, the Chancellor will have a private meeting with Biden, an expanded bilateral meeting, and a joint press conference.
In the meeting, Merkel and Biden are set to discuss a number of issues including the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. If completed, the $11 billion pipeline will stretch 764 miles from Russia to Germany, making it one of the longest offshore gas pipelines in the world.
President Biden has already met with a major proponent of the pipeline, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Merkel is another major advocate for Nord Stream 2. The administration official said Biden has also had conversations with a main opponent of the pipeline, President Zelensky of Ukraine.
A senior administration official said Biden is expected to “raise his long-standing concerns with Chancellor Merkel during their meeting about Russia’s geopolitical project” and about ensuring energy isn’t used as a coercive tool against Ukraine or any other country.
The official stressed that the teams will continue discussing their concerns, but made no promise of a conclusion.
“We are not anticipating any sort of formal announcement or deliverable coming out of the leaders’ meetings tomorrow on Nord Stream,” a senior administration official said, “but like I said, the teams have been having very productive conversations on this set of issues and expect that those will continue.”
The world leaders are set to discuss a number of other issues as well. An administration official revealed that the pair will address the threat of climate change, including the need for progress between the Leaders’ Meeting this spring and COP26 in Glasgow this fall.
They will also discuss global security issues like Afghanistan and continuing Russian cyberattacks.
A key component of their discussions will be the ongoing fight against COVID-19. A senior administration official said the leaders share a goal of their joining commitment to the international alliance COVAX.
“They will continue to have conversations about how we can ensure the widest distribution of vaccines in a very rapid timeframe,” said a senior administration official.
The meeting also reaffirms the White House stance of Germany as one of the closest US allies, especially after a tumultuous relationship between nations with the last administration.
A senior administration official remained optimistic about the relationship.
“We think that we’re going to be much more effective in terms of harnessing the power of that transatlantic relationship, that bilateral relationship to set the global rules of the road on issues that we care about,” said the official.