By Kanishka Singh
– German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will meet U.S. President Joe Biden on Feb. 7 at the White House, with the two leaders expected to discuss ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine among other topics, the White House said on Thursday.
“They will also discuss the importance of continued close cooperation on a range of common challenges, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing the threat of climate change, and promoting economic prosperity and international security,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Last week, a German government spokesperson denied a media report that Scholz, who became chancellor last month, replacing longtime leader Angela Merkel, had refused an invitation to discuss the Ukraine crisis that came at short notice from Biden.
Biden spoke with Scholz last month to congratulate him on his appointment and the two leaders discussed issues including efforts to address Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine.
Russia has massed troops near Ukraine’s border but says it does not plan to invade its neighbour. The United States has spent weeks trying to build agreement with European partners on a strong sanctions package if Russia attacks.
The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany will not move forward if Russia invades Ukraine.
Europe’s most divisive energy project, Nord Stream 2 is designed to double the amount of gas flowing from Russia straight to Germany, bypassing traditional transit nation Ukraine, on the bed of the Baltic Sea.
It has faced resistance from the United States and from within the European Union on the grounds it increases Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and denies Ukraine transit fees, at a time of Moscow’s broader standoff with the West.