Merkel expects talks with Biden admin about Nord Stream 2

“We can do anything we like, but we will not succeed if others are not working in parallel,” Merkel told journalists on Tuesday, two days ahead of a videoconference of European leaders. “We need to make sure that everyone around us is doing the same. Otherwise we have to look at measures such as entry restrictions.” Her comments came after she and leaders of Germany’s 16 states agreed to extend for another two weeks a lockdown for most shops and schools until Feb. 14. New infections have been falling in recent days and pressure on intensive care units has eased slightly, but virologists, pointing to the situation in Britain, with Europe’s highest COVID-19 death toll, warn the mutants could undo all progress. Germany shares borders with nine countries, and there are growing concerns about infection rates in some of them, including Czech Republic, where commuter traffic is heavy. ADVERTISEMENT Most schools will remain closed, despite opposition, given evidence that some new variants are more transmissible among children, Merkel said. “If we had a situation like London, then we wouldn’t be talking about schools anymore but about ambulances and overflowing hospitals,” she said. Medical masks, and not simple cotton ones, will be made mandatory on public transportation and in stores, and companies must let employees work from home until March 15 where possible. Aid for hard-hit companies is to be improved, and retailers’ writedowns on seasonal goods - which could include winter coats or ski equipment - will be taken into account. ADVERTISEMENT A waiver on insolvency filings for firms hit by the coronavirus crisis will be extended until the end of April. The provision, which had been due to expire at the end of the month, has helped contain bankruptcies in Europe’s largest economy. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose 11,369 to 2.05 million, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday. The death toll was up 989 to 47,622. Germany aims to bring the number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days down to no more than 50. That number currently stands at 132.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she wants to speak to the administration of new US President Joe Biden about the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project that faces American sanctions.

At a press conference on Thursday, Merkel said that some transatlantic dispute, among them the Nord Stream 2 project, are still to be settled with the new US administration, Xinhua news agency.

She said that Germany and the US should “put everything on the table” and clarify the extent to which Washington can accept the project.

Such debates, she said, would now take place “on a broader foundation of shared convictions”.

There is “just a broader space for political agreement with President Biden”, the Chancellor added.

Washington and Berlin have long been at odds over the 1,230-km Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is designed to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea.

Former President Donald Trump has long voiced his discontentment about the project, complaining about Germany’s large payment to Russia on energy and “delinquency” on military spending.

German government and officials have repeatedly condemned the US sanctions and Washington’s extraterritorial administration.

At Thursday’s presser, Merkel also welcomed the decrees that Biden had signed immediately after taking office and that it was once again possible to work together with the US at the World Health Organization (WHO) and on the Paris Agreement on climate change.

She said that “we can’t now just count on political agreement” with Biden’s administration, as there will also be discussions about “how we do things well for both countries”.

“Europe will have to take on more responsibility… Not only militarily but also in the diplomatic arena and many other areas. We in Germany are ready for this and the European Union is also ready for this.”

On Wednesday, Merkel congratulated Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their inauguration through government spokesman Steffen Seibert via Twitter.

“I look forward to a new chapter of German-American friendship and cooperation,” she said.

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