Biden, Merkel to meet at White House in July


German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit the White House next month, the third foreign leader to meet President Joe Biden in person in Washington since he assumed office earlier this year.

The summit, scheduled for July 15, “will affirm the deep bilateral ties between the United States and Germany,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Friday announcing the news.

“The leaders will discuss their commitment to close cooperation on a range of common challenges,” Psaki said, “including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing the threat of climate change, and promoting economic prosperity and international security based on our shared democratic values.”

Merkel’s meeting with Biden will come after the American president met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in April and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in May.

Biden — who is on a weeklong tour of western Europe, his first foreign trip as president — will also see Merkel on Friday for the opening of the G-7 summit. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hosting the annual meeting of the leaders of the world’s most economically advanced countries in Cornwall, England.

Merkel, who has presided over the German government since 2005, is in her fourth and final term as chancellor, after announcing in 2018 that she would not seek reelection this year. Her visit with Biden is set to take place just three months before she leaves office in October.

Merkel enjoyed a memorably warm relationship with former President Barack Obama, but U.S.-German diplomacy grew strained under former President Donald Trump, who criticized Berlin’s trade surplus and relatively low levels of military spending that fell short of commitments made by NATO member states.

Trump also frequently complained about U.S. interest rates in relation to Germany and other countries, and demanded that European nations take custody of imprisoned Islamic State fighters in Syria who originated in those western countries.

Last May, Merkel rejected Trump’s invitation to a proposed G-7 summit in Washington amid the coronavirus pandemic, and last June, Trump announced plans to pull 12,000 U.S. service members out of Germany.

Biden halted that withdrawal in February, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced in April that the U.S. would deploy an additional 500 troops to Germany as early as the fall of this year.

Among the issues of diplomatic concern that Biden and Merkel are likely to discuss next month is the controversial construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, which the State Department has described as “a Russian geopolitical project that threatens European energy security.”

But the German government has supported the project, and Biden last month announced his intention to waive sanctions against the head of the company building the pipeline, who is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden and Putin are scheduled to meet in person next Wednesday for a highly anticipated summit in Geneva at the conclusion of the president’s overseas trip.