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Acknowledging Disagreements, Biden and Merkel Sign Hotter U.S.-German Ties

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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 careworn their shared values, at the same time as each acknowledged variations on a significant Russian pipeline and the way greatest to strategy China.

Throughout conferences on the White Home, Mr. Biden’s agenda included a number of of his most urgent geopolitical priorities, corresponding to restraining Chinese language affect, curbing Russian aggression and waiving mental property restrictions on coronavirus vaccine producers.

Whereas there have been no obvious breakthroughs, the go to was a method 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 will likely be sworn in after elections on Sept. 26.

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

For probably the most half, the journey gave the impression to be a triumph of the private over coverage. Mr. Biden joked that Ms. Merkel, who has labored with 4 U.S. presidents, “is aware of the Oval Workplace in addition to I do.” The chancellor referred to the president as “pricey Joe” a number of instances as she extolled their pleasant relationship, which has endured since his time within the Senate. However 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 problem 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 12 months. The president and his predecessors have assailed the venture as little greater than a coercive instrument towards Ukraine and different allies.

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

Mr. Biden mentioned the 2 had agreed that they have been “united in our conviction that Russia shouldn’t be in a position to make use of power as a weapon.”

The president waived congressional sanctions this 12 months on the Russian firm constructing the pipeline and its German chief govt, successfully conceding that an effort to halt the venture was not well worth the anticipated value to U.S.-German relations.

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

“There may be numerous widespread understanding that China in lots of areas is our competitor,” the chancellor mentioned, cautious to not run afoul of Germany’s largest buying and selling accomplice. She added that “commerce with China must relaxation on the idea that now we have a degree taking part in area.”

The 2 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 towards Europeans, however he didn’t decide to ending it.

“I did elevate the difficulty,” the chancellor mentioned, “and acquired the identical reply that the president gave you: The Covid crew is evaluating the matter.”

Nonetheless, 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 match Mr. Biden’s management type together with his predecessor’s, the chancellor was characteristically restrained, emphasizing that she and Mr. Biden had a “very pleasant alternate.”

“We aren’t solely companions and allies,” Ms. Merkel mentioned, “however we’re very shut associates.”

The president started the occasion by providing his condolences to Germans for the lack of life and property attributable to latest floods. He went on to thank the chancellor for “an exemplary lifetime of groundbreaking service to Germany.”

Mr. Biden was requested to confront circumstances of diplomatic turmoil nearer to house, together with protests in Cuba and unrest after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti. He advised 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 residents” and mentioned he wouldn’t finish guidelines towards funds People could make to their Cuban family as a result of he couldn’t make sure that the federal government wouldn’t take them.

“I’d not try this now,” he mentioned, “as a result of the actual fact is, it’s extremely probably that the regime would confiscate these remittances, or huge chunks.”

The president grew testy when he was requested about his high home financial priorities. When requested if he was assured {that a} $3.5 trillion funds framework drawn up by Democrats can be sufficient to move with each Democratic senator on board, Mr. Biden chastised the news media as pre-emptively suggesting that the plan, together with negotiations over an infrastructure deal, was headed for failure.

“I’m supremely assured that the whole lot goes to work out completely,” he mentioned dryly. “I’ve watched and listened to the press declare my initiative useless at the least 10 instances to this point. I don’t suppose it’s useless. I believe it’s nonetheless alive.”

Other than extra thorny coverage points, Ms. Merkel’s go to was a diplomatic victory lap of kinds 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 obtained an honorary doctorate from Johns Hopkins College, including to her assortment of levels from Harvard and Stanford. As soon as she arrived on the White Home, Ms. Merkel and the president exchanged compliments within the Oval Workplace.

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

Simply as Ms. Merkel spent years responding mildly to Mr. Trump, she has not at all times been overeager to simply accept Mr. Biden’s entreaties that the U.S.-German relationship had been restored to a way of normalcy. Throughout the digital Munich Safety Convention held this 12 months, she mentioned of the U.S. relationship that “our pursuits won’t at all times converge.”

By the point of the news convention on Thursday, Mr. Biden and Ms. Merkel appeared extra fascinated with persevering with her farewell occasion than discussing what divided them.

After the news convention, they attended dinner with longtime allies, together with Hillary Clinton. Consultant 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 go away proper now,” he advised her, “we’re going to miss dinner.”

Glenn Thrush contributed reporting.

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