German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will meet with President Biden at the White House Friday to discuss a range of thorny international issues, including possible sanctions on China amid concerns it may provide weapons to Russia for its war with Ukraine.
Mr. Scholz arrived in Washington late Thursday for the meeting with his U.S. counterpart Friday afternoon. A senior administration official said the session will let the leaders exchange ideas about the war as it grinds into its second year.
The official said the leaders “will get down into the weeds” when it comes to the war.
Mr. Scholz’s visit comes days after White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told ABC that Mr. Biden bucked the advice of defense officials and agreed to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine because Mr. Scholz made it a condition for Germany to send its Leopard tanks
The comments reverberated in Washington and Berlin because Mr. Sullivan contradicted earlier statements by Mr. Biden, who insisted his decision was not influenced by Germany. It also disputed claims by the German government, which has denied that the two countries were sending their tanks as part of a package deal.
Berlin says Mr. Biden came to the decision on his own.
A spokesperson for Mr. Scholz this week dismissed the idea that Germany forced Mr. Biden into doing something he didn’t want to do.
“I have a hard time imagining a German chancellor dictating terms or making any demands of an American president,” the spokesperson said.
Another senior administration official denied there were strains between Washington and Berlin.
“The relationship is in a rock-solid place,” the official told reporters in a conference call Thursday night. “Tomorrow’s meeting will largely focus on what we are doing together next to support Ukraine — a sign of the good footing the relationship continues to be on.”
Another key point of discussion is the possibility that China will provide arms to Russia. In a speech this week, Mr. Scholz urged China not to send weapons to Moscow and asked Beijing to pressure Russia to pull back its forces.
The U.S. is discussing with allies whether to jointly impose sanctions on Beijing if it supplies weapons to Russia, which could put Mr. Scholz in an awkward position. China is one of Germany’s largest trading partners.
The two countries traded goods worth roughly $320 billion last year, up 21% from 2021, according to data from the German government.