Merkel looks forward to 'new chapter' with Biden

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected] • 20 Jan, 2021 Updated Wed 20 Jan 2021 22:07 CEST
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday congratulated new US President Joe Biden, saying she looked forward to a "new chapter" in German-US relations.

"Warmest congratulations on your inauguration, @POTUS Joe Biden and @VP Kamala Harris - a true celebration of American democracy," Merkel was quoted as saying in a tweet posted by her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

"I look forward to a new chapter of German-American friendship and cooperation," she added.

Merkel and Biden have previously met in person a few times when he was Vice President from 2008 to 2016, including at the 2009 Munich Security Conference and at a bilateral visit in 2013. 

READ ALSO: What could Joe Biden as US President look like for Germany?

What other German politicians said

Earlier on Wednesday German President Steinmeier said the transfer of power to Biden brought with it "the hope that the international community can work together more closely and better in future to solve the great problems of our time".

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of the Social Democrats (SPD) also expressed relief on Wednesday at the change of power in the White House after four years of Trump plunging German-American relations into the worst crisis of the post-war era.

"In the last four years, we have seen what 'America first' has meant: no coordination whatsoever, no consultations whatsoever," Maas told public broadcaster ZDF.

Joe Biden now wants to change that, he said. "I am very happy that it is finally happening again. Because we need the United States to really get a grip again on major challenges, on the crises of this time."

Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer held out for the prospect of greater German security cooperation with the new US president.

"We and our European partners, allies of America, must take confident steps to strengthen transatlantic security," the CDU politician said.

Markus Söder, Bavarian state premiere and leader of Merkel's CSU sister party, tweeted, "The transatlantic bridge is being rebuilt. We must push aside the rubble caused by Trump."

German-American relations had sunk to a low point during the Trump era. Many felt that the former US president, who left office on Wednesday after four years, had not treated Germany not as an ally but as an adversary.

The main points of contention included defence spending, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany and Germany's trade surplus.

These issues are not likely to disappear under the Biden administration but there are hopes in the German government that there will be a significant change in the way the two countries work together.

READ ALSO: German-US alliance on 'life support' after four years of Trump

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