German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with US President Barack Obama on Tuesday amid differences over Libya and the eurozone crisis.
Germany raised eyebrows amongst some in Washington when it abstained in the UN vote on Libya.
Officials say privately that Berlin has been too hesitant in agreeing bailouts for Europe’s peripheral economies and worry a stagnant eurozone could also hinder the US recovery.
Despite their disagreements, Merkel was set to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a lavish state dinner.
The award is the nation’s top civilian honour. Previous recipients include ex-South African president Nelson Mandela and investor Warren Buffett.