Biden to Host Merkel at White House Amid Spat Over Gas Pipeline


U.S. President Joe Biden will host Chancellor Angela Merkel next month as the two NATO allies look to move beyond a dispute over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline linking Germany with Russia.

While the pipeline wasn’t mentioned in a list of discussion topics for the July 15 meeting at the White House, it is sure to be on the agenda. The U.S. opposes the almost-completed project, citing concerns it will increase Germany’s reliance on Russia, while Merkel’s government argues that it’s purely a commercial venture.

The two leaders will discuss “a range of common challenges, including ending the Covid-19 pandemic, addressing the threat of climate change, and promoting economic prosperity and international security based on our shared democratic values,” according to a White House statement.

“Chancellor Merkel’s visit will affirm the deep bilateral ties between the United States and Germany,” the statement added. A German government spokesperson confirmed the meeting, describing it as a “working visit.”

The trip will be one of Merkel’s final official forays abroad before she steps aside following September’s national election after 16 years running Europe’s biggest economy.

She had a warm relationship with former President Barack Obama, but U.S.-German ties deteriorated significantly under Obama’s successor Donald Trump. With Biden now in charge, Germany has welcomed the return of a “multilateral” U.S. committed to international alliances and cooperation.

Germany is seeking to calm concerns over Nord Stream 2 by pushing for a gas agreement between Ukraine and Russia to be extended beyond 2024.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said this week that Berlin wants to make sure Ukraine remains a “gas transit” nation over the longer term, even as Russian gas is piped directly to Germany’s north coast via the new link.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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