President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were hard at work ironing out American-German relations in a White House meeting this Thursday. For the past several months, relations between the two countries have been strained due to the Biden administration’s opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The pipeline would transport natural gas from Russia to Germany. While Merkel favors the pipeline, Biden believes that Russia could use it as a form of coercion against Germany and other countries in Western Europe. While the two did not come to a consensus on the issue, they nonetheless agreed that it was in their best interests to constrain Russia’s ability to influence other countries.
Merkel’s visit marked her 23rd time visiting the White House since she assumed Germany’s chancellorship in 2005. As Merkel does not intend to seek reelection next fall, the visit might be her last official visit to the White House as Germany’s head of government. In addition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Biden and Merkel discussed a variety of issues, including vaccinations against COVID-19, climate change, and the threat of cyber attacks emanating from Russia.
In a joint press conference, Biden celebrated Merkel’s tenure as leader of Germany. Referring to Merkel as both his personal friend and a friend of the American people, President Biden said that Merkel’s work has created a strong foundation for American-German relations. The two leaders also revealed the Washington Declaration, a document promising cooperation between the United States and Germany on several key policy issues. The Washington Declaration further reiterated Germany and America’s commitment to supporting human rights and democratic ideas throughout the world.
Political analysts say that Biden’s meeting with Merkel is the first step in the thawing of relations between the two countries. While the Biden administration’s stance on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was a major sticking point between the two leaders, Merkel has come out several times as being an opponent to former President Trump’s “America’s first” foreign policy. Trump also made several criticisms of Germany during his tenure as president, suggesting that the nation does not support NATO enough and is too dependent on Russian energy sources. While Biden’s meeting with Merkel is a show of good faith, experts say that it is unlikely that the two will ever fully see eye to eye. Following Biden’s inauguration in January, Merkel herself said she fully expects to argue with the new president over what is best for their nations.