Germany Sends Envoys to Washington to Patch Transatlantic Rift

Germany will send a high-level delegation to Washington as part of an effort to patch lingering rifts, including tension over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia and spying practices.

The officials will head to the U.S. capital in the coming days to discuss economic and political relations and prepare for upcoming multilateral meetings. As part of Joe Biden’s first trip to Europe as U.S. president this month, he’s due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“It’s normal practice in German-U.S. relations that advisers travel” to advance discussions, a government spokesperson said on Tuesday, without specifying details.

The German delegation is led by Merkel’s foreign policy aide Jan Hecker and Lars-Hendrik Roeller, her chief economic adviser. The team will meet officials including U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Trade Representative Katherine Tai, according to a report by the Funke media group.

The trip is emblematic of improving relations between the U.S. and Germany after strains under Donald Trump, who often harried the close American ally over a range of issues from trade to defense and energy. Biden has sought to strengthen ties and last week backed off from immediate sanctions against the Nord Stream project, saying it’s nearly completed and the move would hurt relations with Europe.

“We have taken note of the decision by Washington and President Biden’s comments on the issue and have made it very clear that we have an interest in seeking a unified path,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Berlin on Tuesday. “As in the past, we are focusing on dialogue with those responsible in Washington and will continue to do so.”

Aside from Nord Stream, U.S. spying on European officials has again become an issue. French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday urged the U.S. to clarify media reports that American intelligence monitored Merkel and other European politicians with the help of Denmark.

“If the information is correct, then that’s unacceptable between allies, and even less so between European allies,” Macron told reporters after a bilateral meeting with the German leader. “We expect complete openness and a clarification of the facts from our Danish and American partners.” Merkel said she agreed with Macron’s position.

Denmark’s state broadcaster DR cited a classified report saying that the Danish Defense Intelligence Service allowed the U.S. National Security Agency to use the country’s internet cables for spying on Merkel and politicians in France, Sweden and Norway.

On his trip to Europe, Biden is expected to attend the G-7 summit in the U.K. from June 11-13 and will take part in the NATO meeting in Brussels on 14 June, when an EU-U.S. summit is also planned. The 78-year-old’s visit to the region will conclude after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on June 16.

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