Biden and Merkel show a return to business as usual during German chancellor’s final visit


Biden and Merkel show a return to business as usual during German chancellor’s final visit

Biden and Merkel show a return to business as usual during German chancellor’s final visit

President Joe Biden and German chancellor Angela Merkel showcased the return of grown-up diplomacy and relations between the US and Germany at one of the first White House visits by a foreign leader of the former’s presidency.

Mr Biden said that the two countries would work together to address issues including Russian aggression, violations of human rights in countries such as China, and an effort to expand both energy independence and the proliferation of green energy sources across central and eastern Europe.

“We are united … united in our commitment to address democratic backsliding, corruption, phony populism”, and other issues plaguing developing nations, Mr Biden said.

At a joint press conference on Thursday following a “working meeting” at the White House, the two leaders discussed partnerships on a wide range of issues on which the two countries would work together, while drawing obvious contrasts to the rocky relationship Ms Merkel had with the White House’s previous occupant.

Mr Biden took the time to express his gratitude for the German chancellor’s leadership during the joint news conference, where each world leader took questions from two reporters. Mr Biden added that he would miss her after her term ends later this year, while quipping that she had come to the White House so many times that she knew the place as well as the president.

“On a personal note, I’ll miss seeing you at our summits, I truly will,” the president told Ms Merkel.

This will probably be her last visit to Washington as chancellor. Ms Merkel is set to leave office in December after announcing that she will not run for reelection.

She is only the third foreign leader to meet Mr Biden personally in Washington since he took office; much of the White House’s activity has remained at least somewhat constrained by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which continued to force many events to be held virtually. The president did attend meetings of the G7 and Nato in person earlier this summer.

Of Ms Merkel, Mr Biden said: “She is a stalwart champion of the trans-Atlantic alliance.”

In her own remarks, Ms Merkel took time to praise first responders working to rescue victims of deadly flooding across Germany, and also discussed other issues including the joint efforts of coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Such efforts, she lamented, did not “build” the nation that the two countries desired, a remark that came as the US completes its withdrawal of troops over the next month.

The two seemed eager to put the events of the previous presidency, during which the US-German relationship was strained due to President Donald Trump’s frequent personal criticism of Ms Merkel and her policies, in the past.

At one point during a Q&A session with reporters, Ms Merkel was asked to characterise her relationship with previous US presidents over her long career, and opted in response to only praise the conversations she had with Mr Biden earlier in the day.

Their meeting occurred on Thursday just hours after it was revealed that Mr Trump had used sexist language and an anti-German slur popularised during the First World War to refer to Ms Merkel during a visit to Europe.


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