The White House announced on Friday that US President Joe Biden will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel next Thursday to underline “deep and durable” connections between the NATO allies while also addressing some areas of dispute.
The two leaders will discuss ransomware attacks that have impacted businesses in the United States and around the world, as well as the Nord Stream 2 gas project from Russia to Germany, which Washington opposes, according to White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
According to Psaki, the trip will be a “formal working visit” aimed at bolstering the two countries’ partnership and identifying measures to improve collaboration.
It will be Merkel’s first visit to Washington since Biden took office in January. Merkel, now in her fourth term, has said she will step down after German national elections in September.
Psaki said Biden still sees the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a “poor deal,” but she wouldn’t say whether an agreement could be made to avoid the reinstatement of temporarily delayed US tariffs on Nord Stream 2 AG, the German firm behind the project, and its CEO.
In May, the US State Department determined that the corporation and its CEO, Matthias Warnig, a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, were involved in sanctionable activities. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, however, promptly waived the penalties, claiming that it was in the national interest of the United States.
Biden has said he wants to improve ties with Germany, an ally he needs to help deal with broader issues including climate change, the economic recovery and relations with Iran and China.
German officials say they hope to resolve the issue by August and the Biden-Merkel meeting could provide important momentum for getting to a deal.
Berlin and Washington also remain at odds over a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights being considered by World Trade Organization members to help end the COVID-19 pandemic. Washington backs the waiver, but Germany is opposed.
Asked if Biden would seek to convince Merkel to support the patent waiver, Psaki said the president was a “strong proponent” of such action, but it was just one of several tools that could be used to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates around the world.
In a letter sent to Biden on Friday, Amnesty International, Public Citizen, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and other organizations encouraged him to put pressure on Merkel to support the waiver.
“The Merkel summit will not be regarded a success unless it includes a commitment for Germany to join your support for a waiver and to prioritize the end of the pandemic as soon as feasible,” they wrote in the letter, which was viewed by Reuters.
After Biden pressed Putin to take action against cybercriminals operating out of Russia, Psaki said the two leaders will discuss ransomware cyberattacks.