WASHINGTON, July 9 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden will
host a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel next
Thursday to affirm "deep and enduring" ties between the NATO
allies while also tackling some areas of disagreement, the White
House said on Friday.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the two leaders would
discuss ransomware attacks that have hit companies in the United
States and around the world, as well as the Nord Stream 2 gas
pipeline from Russia to Germany, which Washington opposes.
Psaki said it would be an "official working visit" aimed at
shoring up the partnership between the two countries and
identifying ways to further strengthen cooperation.
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 continued to view the $11 billion Nord
Stream 2 pipeline as a "bad deal," but declined to say if an
agreement could be reached to stave off resumption of
temporarily suspended U.S. tariffs on Nord Stream 2 AG, the
Germany company behind the pipeline, and its chief executive.
The U.S. State Department in May concluded that the company
and CEO Matthias Warnig, an ally of Russian President Vladimir
Putin, engaged in sanctionable activity. But Secretary of State
Antony Blinken immediately waived those sanctions, saying it was
in the U.S. national interest.
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.
Amnesty International, Public Citizen, the Association of
Flight Attendants-CWA and other groups urged Biden in a letter
on Friday to pressure Merkel to support the waiver.
"The Merkel summit cannot be considered a success unless it
includes an agreement for Germany to join your support for a
waiver and to prioritize the fastest possible end of the
pandemic," they wrote in the letter, which was seen by Reuters.
Psaki said the two leaders will also discuss ransomware
cyberattacks, after Biden pressured Putin to move against
cybercriminals operating out of Russia.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by
Chris Reese, Aurora Ellis and Sonya Hepinstall)