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

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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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