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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Biden, Scholz discuss support for Ukraine at White House

The United States and Germany are working hand-in-hand on Ukraine and strengthening the NATO military alliance, President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who arrived in Washington Friday afternoon to meet with the US President.

Scholz said it was important to send a signal that the allies would continue to support Ukraine. Prior to the closed-door meeting, the two leaders spoke briefly in the Oval Office with reporters. The main topics of the talks are expected to be increased support for Ukraine, as well as concerns over the possible start of Chinese arms supplies to Russia.

Such a move could radically change the trajectory of the war, allowing Moscow to replenish its depleted stockpiles of weapons. China is Germany’s biggest trading partner, and European countries tend to be more wary of Beijing than of the United States. However, there are indications that this could change as global competition intensifies.

In his speech to the Bundestag on Thursday, Scholz urged China to “use its influence in Moscow to force the withdrawal of Russian troops and not to supply arms to Russia, the aggressor country.”

The last time the German Chancellor visited the White House was just over a year ago, shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine. Unlike official state visits, such as French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Washington last year, no ceremony or celebration is planned this time around. In particular, there will be no traditional press conference where the two leaders usually answer questions from journalists representing the two countries.

The meeting is private. Biden and Scholz will spend most of their time in a one-on-one format, without advisers or other representatives from their administrations present.

In an interview with German television channel Welt, opposition leader Friedrich Merz accused Olaf Scholz of keeping secret information about his trip to Washington, which will take place without the traditional press conference. Merz suggested that Scholz should quell the irritation that has arisen in the United States over Berlin’s delay in a deal to supply tanks to Ukraine. Scholz dismisses the existence of disagreements between the allies.

Asked by The Associated Press about the circumstances of his visit, Scholz said he and Biden “wanted to speak to each other directly” to discuss “a global situation where things have gotten very complicated.”

“It is important that such close friends can constantly discuss all these issues together,” said the German leader.

The United States and Germany work closely together, providing Ukraine with military and humanitarian assistance. However, tensions often arise between allies over issues such as the supply of tanks, and Washington has occasionally criticized Berlin’s indecisiveness.

Ensuring an uninterrupted supply of arms to Kiev will be essential in the second year of the war, especially as both sides plan for a spring offensive.

“We are proud of our joint efforts,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Thursday. He noted that the United States saw no signs that China had made up its mind whether or not to supply arms to Russia.

Max Bergmann, a former State Department official who directs the European program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told The Associated Press that the United States often wants Germany, the world’s fifth-largest economy world and the largest in Europe, is more active. .. on the world stage.

“There is hope that… Germany will take the lead,” he said.

Germany have come a long way in strengthening their defences, Bergmann said, but there is still a long way to go.

“The German worldview does not always coincide with the American worldview,” the CSIS analyst said.

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