Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is making a surprise trip to Washington for a meeting with US President Joe Biden. He is expected at the White House on Friday, the US government headquarters announced on Thursday. Steinmeier was still in Cape Verde, where he had completed a two-day state visit. He actually wanted to fly from there to Portugal in order to take part in the 18th Arraiolos meeting of non-executive presidents of the European Union this Friday in Porto.
“Close coordination as a NATO alliance partner”
The meeting in Washington will also be about “close coordination as NATO allies on a number of important issues, including the defense of democratic values and our shared commitment to supporting Ukraine as it defends itself against the Russian invasion,” said the White House continue with. The Federal President’s Office said that Steinmeier was traveling to Washington at Biden’s invitation. It is the first meeting between the two presidents since Steinmeier took office as Federal President.
The official occasion is German-American Friendship Day
The White House named German-American Friendship Day on Friday as the official reason for the visit. In the USA, German American Day is celebrated on October 6th. It commemorates the arrival of the first German settlers in Philadelphia in 1683.
Ukraine is also likely to be a topic at meetings
At the meeting in the White House, continued support for Ukraine in its defense against Russia is likely to be an important topic. Germany and the USA want to help the attacked country for as long as necessary. However, the interim budget passed by the US Congress at the weekend does not provide for any further aid for Ukraine. This does not mean that the USA will stop supporting Ukraine immediately. But the money approved so far is running out. Biden is seeking to allay concerns among NATO allies and partners that U.S. military aid to Kiev could dry up.
During the Trump era, Steinmeier avoided Washington
Steinmeier had been to the USA several times as Federal President, but had always avoided Washington during the term of US President Donald Trump. The relationship between the two politicians has been considered tense since Steinmeier, while still Foreign Minister in the US election campaign, called Trump a “hate preacher” in August 2016. Trump’s “America First” policy, which often ran counter to a rules-based international order, was vehemently rejected by Steinmeier.
Steinmeier wanted to travel to Washington that night from Cape Verde with his closest circle of colleagues. In addition, a smaller aircraft from the Bundeswehr’s aviation unit came to the island republic. The larger plane that Steinmeier flew there with brought the rest of the delegation back to Germany.