Biden and Merkel meeting begins at White House

President Joe Biden is hosting outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House to discuss differences over Russia and China, as the two leaders seek to strengthen relations that suffered under former President Donald Trump, Reuters reported.

The United States and Germany are key NATO allies. Biden and Merkel have known and worked with each other for years. But their governments disagree on a number of serious issues, including the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea, which Washington fears would damage Ukraine and increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

They also disagree with the advisability of partnering with China on business projects, restrictions on travel to the United States from Europe, and Germany’s opposition to a temporary patent waiver aimed at speeding up production of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Biden, 78, and Merkel, 66, agree on a number of broader issues, and both want to strengthen the transatlantic relationship, which has suffered from Trump’s frequent and harsh criticism of close U.S. allies.

“The cooperation between the United States and Germany is strong, and we hope to continue it, I’m sure we will,” Biden said at the start of their meeting in the Oval Office. “I appreciate this friendship,” Merkel said, noting the U.S. role in building a free and democratic Germany.