Biden Will Press Merkel on China and Russia

WASHINGTON — Signaling that the U.S.-European alliance remained sturdy after the strain of the Trump period, President Biden and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Thursday harassed their shared values, at the same time as each acknowledged variations on a serious Russian pipeline and how greatest to strategy China.

During a 50-minute assembly on the White House, Mr. Biden’s agenda included a number of of his most urgent geopolitical priorities, equivalent to restraining Chinese affect, curbing Russian aggression and waiving mental property restrictions on coronavirus vaccine producers.

While there have been no obvious breakthroughs, the go to was a option to present a unified entrance after President Donald J. Trump’s hostile exchanges with Ms. Merkel over NATO contributions, commerce and multilateralism badly frayed relations. The assembly additionally comes earlier than the chancellor’s time period ends and a brand new German authorities shall be sworn in after elections on Sept. 26.

“Good friends can disagree,” mentioned Mr. Biden, who appeared alongside Ms. Merkel at a information convention within the East Room after the assembly.

For probably the most half, the journey seemed to be a triumph of the private over coverage. Mr. Biden joked that Ms. Merkel, who has labored with 4 U.S. presidents, “knows the Oval Office as well as I do.” The chancellor referred to the president as “dear Joe” a number of instances as she extolled their pleasant relationship, which has endured since his time within the Senate. But the heat couldn’t cloak the truth that neither chief had shifted from their most substantive areas of disagreement.

Mr. Biden mentioned he broached the contentious subject of the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a pure gasoline conduit being constructed between Germany and Russia that’s anticipated to be accomplished by the top of the yr. The president and his predecessors have assailed the mission as little greater than a coercive instrument in opposition to Ukraine and different allies.

“We’ve come to different assessments,” Ms. Merkel mentioned of the mission.

Mr. Biden mentioned the 2 had agreed that they have been “united in our conviction that Russia should not be able to use energy as a weapon.”

The president waived congressional sanctions this yr on the Russian firm constructing the pipeline and its German chief government, successfully conceding that an effort to halt the mission was not well worth the anticipated price to U.S.-German relations.

Ms. Merkel saved her feedback nonspecific on countering China, whose affect Mr. Biden believes poses an existential risk to American democracy.

“There is a lot of common understanding that China in many areas is our competitor,” the chancellor mentioned, cautious to not run afoul of Germany’s largest buying and selling accomplice. She added that “trade with China needs to rest on the assumption that we have a level playing field.”

The two leaders additionally signaled that they remained aside on their strategy to containing the pandemic. Ms. Merkel didn’t decide to the lifting of patents for coronavirus vaccines, and Mr. Biden didn’t elevate the difficulty in entrance of reporters. Ms. Merkel mentioned she had requested the president if his administration would finish a journey ban in opposition to Europeans, however he didn’t decide to ending it.

“I did raise the issue,” the chancellor mentioned, “and got the same answer that the president gave you: The Covid team is evaluating the matter.”

Still, the leaders repeatedly emphasised their one-on-one relationship of their public appearances, a pointy divergence from Ms. Merkel’s chilly and stilted interactions with Mr. Trump, who maligned her as “captive to Russia.” When requested to check Mr. Biden’s management model together with his predecessor’s, the chancellor was characteristically restrained, emphasizing that she and Mr. Biden had a “very friendly exchange.”

“We are not only partners and allies,” Ms. Merkel mentioned, “but we are very close friends.”

The president started the occasion by providing his condolences to Germans for the lack of life and property brought on by latest floods. He went on to thank the chancellor for “an exemplary life of groundbreaking service to Germany” and her work with 4 U.S. presidents.

Mr. Biden was requested to confront instances of diplomatic turmoil nearer to residence, together with protests in Cuba and unrest after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti. He informed a reporter that past dispatching Marines to protect the U.S. Embassy there, he was not contemplating sending American troops.

Addressing a wave of demonstrations throughout Cuba, Mr. Biden accused its authorities of being a “failed state” that was “repressing their citizens” and mentioned he wouldn’t finish guidelines in opposition to funds Americans could make to their Cuban family members as a result of he couldn’t ensure that the federal government wouldn’t take them.

“I would not do that now,” he mentioned, “because the fact is, it is highly likely that the regime would confiscate those remittances, or big chunks.”

The president grew testy when he was requested about his prime home financial priorities. When requested if he was assured $three.5 trillion finances framework drawn up by Democrats could be sufficient to go with each Democratic senator on board, Mr. Biden chastised the information media as pre-emptively suggesting that the plan, together with negotiations over an infrastructure deal, was headed for failure.

“I am supremely confident that everything is going to work out perfectly,” he mentioned. “I have watched and listened to the press declare my initiative dead at least 10 times so far. I don’t think it is dead. I think it is still alive.”

Aside from extra thorny coverage points, Ms. Merkel’s go to was a diplomatic victory lap of types earlier than her time period expires. She began her day with a cheese soufflé breakfast with Vice President Kamala Harris.

Later within the day, the chancellor acquired an honorary doctorate from Johns Hopkins University, including to her assortment of levels from Harvard and Stanford. Once she arrived on the White House, Ms. Merkel and the president exchanged compliments within the Oval Office.

Though the change was not overly heat, it was leagues extra collegial than Ms. Merkel’s previous conferences within the Oval Office. When she requested Mr. Trump in 2017, “Do you want to have a handshake?” Mr. Trump apparently didn’t.

Just as Ms. Merkel spent years responding mildly to Mr. Trump, she has not all the time been overeager to just accept Mr. Biden’s entreaties that the U.S.-German relationship had been restored to a way of normalcy. During the digital Munich Security Conference held this yr, she mentioned of the U.S. relationship that “our interests will not always converge.”

By the time of the information convention on Thursday, Mr. Biden and Ms. Merkel appeared extra inquisitive about persevering with her farewell occasion than discussing what divided them.

After the information convention, they attended dinner with longtime allies, together with Hillary Clinton. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority chief, was additionally scheduled to attend after a visit earlier within the day to see Mr. Trump at his golf membership in New Jersey.

After the 2 leaders fielded questions, Mr. Biden steered Ms. Merkel away from reporters.

“If we don’t leave right now,” he informed her, “we are going to miss dinner.”

Glenn Thrush contributed reporting.