Angela Merkel beats Boris Johnson in race to be first European guest at Biden White House

US president in show of closeness with Emmanuel Macron

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Friday 11 June 2021 19:58
Biden walks with Emmanuel Macron and other G-7 leaders

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is to be the first European leader to visit Joe Biden at the White House, beating Boris Johnson in the race to Washington.

Downing Street brushed off suggestions that Mr Johnson would be disappointed, but the decision is certain to be viewed as a snub reflecting the UK’s dwindling influence in the US in the wake of Brexit.

It came as Mr Biden and the French president, Emmanuel Macron, were seen with their arms around one another’s shoulders as they walked away from a “family picture” photocall on the beach while Mr Johnson looked on.

No plans for a US visit for Mr Johnson were announced following his 80-minute face-to-face meeting with Mr Biden at the G7 summit in Cornwall.

But the prime minister’s official spokesperson insisted they had got on well, saying: “You saw very clearly yesterday the close relationship that the prime minister and President Biden have. The president himself talked quite emphatically about the enduring relationship with the UK, as did the prime minister.”

Mr Biden’s invitation to Ms Merkel came as she attended her final summit of the group of major democracies as chancellor, before she steps down from the post in September.

She will travel to Washington DC for a visit on 15 July to affirm  “the deep bilateral ties” between the US and Germany, said the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki.

The inauguration of a new US president is always accompanied by a battle between world leaders to be the first to visit.

Theresa May faced some ridicule for her determination to be Donald Trump’s first international guest at the White House and to invite the newly inaugurated president for a state visit to the UK.

Mr Biden has already hosted the leaders of Japan and South Korea since taking office in January.

Ms Psaki said Mr Biden and Ms Merkel ”will discuss their commitment to 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 based on our shared democratic values”.

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