Merkel told reporters before embarking on the two-day trip that she and Obama would also cover Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan and preparations for next month's Group of Eight summit in Italy.
She said she also hoped to clear a few obstacles on the road toward a landmark United Nations treaty on climate change in Copenhagen in December during her stay in the United States, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.
"It is about comparing notes on how we can achieve a deal in Copenhagen," she said. "A lot has happened in the United States of America on this issue but there is still an enormous amount of work to do."
Merkel said there were also differences on new international rules for financial markets and against protectionism ahead of the G8 summit July 8-10 and a meeting of the Group of 20 industralised nations in Pittsburgh in September.
"We will have to surmount some difficulties to work toward fiscally sustainable development in the economy," Merkel said. "We have to draw the right lessons from the economic crisis. The American president, Barack Obama, is of the same opinion."
Senior aides to the chancellor said this week that Merkel would like to hear Obama's "exit strategy" out of massive public spending to grapple with the economic crisis, with the spectre of runaway global inflation looming large.
It will be Merkel's first visit to Washington since Obama took office in January but her stop at the White House Friday will mark their third one-on-one talks this year.
Despite the flurry of meetings, most recently in the eastern German city of Dresden this month, Obama and Merkel have had to work to dispel rumours of friction between them.
A close advisor to the conservative chancellor, who had warm personal relations with Obama's predecessor George W. Bush, expressed exasperation with the persistent rumours in the US and German press.
"Merkel will not take part in a contest to see who gets along best with the American president," the advisor said on condition of anonymity.