German chancellor snubs Biden – Der Spiegel
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reportedly turned down an invitation for talks sent by US President Joe Biden at short notice. According to Der Spiegel, Scholz cited a busy schedule as the reason why he could not discuss the situation around Ukraine with his counterpart in Washington.
The German leader had arranged an official visit to Spain by the time the invitation from the White House reached him, the outlet said on Friday. Furthermore, Scholz is allegedly eager to spend more time in Germany as the country grapples with the Omicron Covid-19 variant. The two sides are now reportedly working to arrange a bilateral meeting before mid-February.
German journalists claim to have discovered that the canceled meeting was meant to bring the two countries’ positions closer together vis-a-vis Russia. Biden had reportedly hoped to convince Scholz to adopt a tougher line on Moscow. To prepare the ground for that, CIA head William Burns reportedly paid the German chancellor a visit in Berlin last week.
Both the German government and the White House have officially denied the claims made by Der Spiegel.
When asked to comment on the report, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council branded it as “completely made up,” adding that nothing of the kind “happened.” The official went on to say that the initiative to hold talks actually came from Berlin, and that Washington is expected to welcome Scholz in February.
Speaking on Tuesday, following talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Scholz made it clear that Germany would not export lethal weapons to Ukraine. He stressed that “on that point, nothing has changed” since his government took over in December.
Earlier in the week, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told MPs that Britain had “taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light anti-armor defensive weapon systems.” A small group of British military personnel would also be sent to the Eastern European country to provide training. The delivery flights reportedly bypassed German airspace, however.