President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel presented a united front on energy and environmental issues after their bilateral meeting Thursday, despite ongoing disagreements over Nord Stream 2.
At the joint press conference following the meeting, Biden said he reiterated his concerns about the $11 billion pipeline from Russia to Germany, which is almost fully built.
“Chancellor Merkel and I are absolutely united in our conviction that Russia must not be allowed to use energy as a weapon to coerce or threaten its neighbors," the president added, reflecting significant domestic congressional pressures to rein in Russia's actions on Ukraine.
Of the pipeline, Biden said “good friends can disagree” and noted that it was almost completed when he took office while defending his decision to waive sanctions against the company behind the pipeline.
“It made more sense to work with the chancellor on finding out how she would proceed based on whether or not Russia tried to essentially blackmail Ukraine in some way,” Biden said, noting that he asked their teams to look at practical measures they could take together.
Biden and Merkel weren’t expecting to come out of Thursday’s meeting with a deal on Nord Stream 2, though the White House has been clear on wanting concrete steps laid out to ensure that Russia can’t leverage the pipeline against other countries' interests.
In her remarks, Merkel said the two leaders have “come to different assessments as to what this project entails,” but said they agreed that Ukraine remains a transit country for natural gas and has a right to territorial sovereignty.
The two leaders said Germany and the U.S. are launching a partnership on climate and energy, painting the climate push as common ground between the two countries.
The partnership is focused on three areas: climate action, energy technologies and energy transitions in emerging economies.
The third topic has the stated goal of increasing sustainable energy in these economies and “preventing the use of energy as a coercive tool.” Biden said the partnership will support energy security, the development of sustainable energy technologies and emerging economies such as Ukraine.
In contrast to the relationship between Merkel and former President Donald Trump, the German chancellor described the U.S.-German climate partnership as a “very important message," saying the countries want to built on “future-oriented” technologies like renewables.
Before Biden took office, Trump ticked off Merkel when he said Germany was controlled by Russia, and later hit the Nord Stream 2 project with sanctions.
Merkel's visit to the White House was her first since 2019. She characterized her conversation with Biden as pleasant, noting “we all share the same values” — also a significant change in tone from the Trump era.
Biden is the fourth and final president Merkel has visited during her time as chancellor. She’ll step down following German elections in September.
View original post