At the start of a joint press conference, US President Biden expressed his condolences to the relatives of the victims of the flood disaster in Germany. His thoughts are with the families concerned. Biden also paid tribute to Merkel's chancellorship. These have a "historical character". Merkel is the first female Chancellor in Germany and the first from the former GDR. You have done "groundbreaking services" for Germany and the world. The Chancellor always stood up for what was right and defended human dignity. "I know that the partnership between Germany and the United States will grow even stronger on the foundation that you helped to build," continued Biden. "But personally I have to tell you that I will miss you at our summit meetings, I really will."
Merkel also initially spoke about the flood. In the affected areas in Germany and neighboring countries, "a day of fear" was just coming to an end - "about life and property, a day of worry and despair," she said. "We will not leave you alone in this difficult, terrible hour," Merkel assured the victims of the disaster. She told Biden that the nations of Germany and the USA were not only partners but also friends. She is grateful that, as announced by Biden, the future relationships and projects are to be recorded in a "Washington Declaration".
Merkel thanked Biden that the United States had returned to the Paris climate agreement under him. Germany wants to cooperate even more with the United States on the expansion of green energies.
Merkel said that there were still two “different” assessments of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. However, she and President Biden agreed that Russia should not abuse the project to put Ukraine under pressure to cap gas transit payments. Without being more specific, Merkel said that "active action" will be taken if Russia does not comply with Ukraine's right to transit payments. Biden said his opinion on the pipeline was known. For him it is important that Russia cannot abuse the pipeline to blackmail Ukraine.
The Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline is currently the biggest conflict between the USA and Germany. It is intended to bring Russian gas to Germany bypassing Ukraine. The USA and some Eastern European NATO partners fear that Europe is too dependent on Russian energy supplies and therefore reject the project. Washington and Berlin have been trying to find a compromise for weeks. According to Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, they have come closer on many points.
The Chancellor spoke of a “good partnership” between the USA and Germany in the military operation in Afghanistan, which has now come to an end. There was good cooperation, even if it was not possible to establish a state in Afghanistan as the USA and Germany had imagined.
There was also talk of China, said Merkel. There is a "great, common understanding" that China is a competitor. You have to work to ensure that there is a level playing field, i.e. a basic framework of agreements in economic cooperation.
US President Joe Biden has also promised that his government will review the existing corona entry restrictions for Europeans from the Schengen area. He expects a response from the Covid experts in the coming days. Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had raised the issue in the joint talks. “I trust the American Covid team,” she adds. For days, business and politics in Germany have been storming the US entry restrictions. Americans are already allowed to enter the Schengen area again.
Meet in the Oval Office
Biden received Merkel beforehand in his study, the Oval Office. Biden emphasized that he saw Merkel as a personal friend of the United States. The relationship between the US and Germany is strong and growing, said the US President. Merkel did a lot for this "lasting friendship". The Chancellor said about the relationship between the USA and Germany: "I really appreciate the friendship, I know what America has done for the history of a free and democratic Germany."
Merkel is the first head of government from Europe that Biden has received in the White House since he took office in January. The visit is intended to mark the new beginning of German-American relations after a low point in the era of Biden's predecessor Donald Trump. Biden is trying to repair relations with Germany and other US allies that were heavily strained under Trump.