US President Joe Biden on Sunday praised Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz for his leadership in the wake of Russia’s war against Ukraine and urged the West to stay united.
“We have to stay together,” Biden told Scholz at a meeting ahead of the G7 summit in the German Alps.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had been hoping “that somehow NATO and the G7 would splinter,” Biden said. “But we haven’t and we’re not going to.”
Biden met his German host in the picturesque Elmau Castle where the G7—Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States—was holding a three-day summit dominated by the crisis in Ukraine.
Biden praised Scholz’s leadership as current chair of the G7 at a time of upheaval in Europe triggered by Russia’s war and subsequent global economic fallout.
“I want to compliment you for stepping up as you did when you became chancellor” and “the way you had a great impact on the rest of Europe to move, particularly relating to Ukraine,” Biden told Scholz.
The 79-year-old Democrat also fondly recalled his skiing days, telling Scholz that the Alpine setting was “beautiful.”
A senior US official said Washington has been “investing very heavily” in the relationship with Germany since Biden took office almost two and a half years ago.
Their talks Sunday were “a good opportunity to affirm the deep and enduring ties between our two countries. In terms of the meeting agenda, expect that Russia and Ukraine are going to be at the top of the list, including our continued close coordination on the political and diplomatic front,” the official said.
The world leaders mocked Putin’s tough-man image during the lunch, joking about whether they should strip down to shirtsleeves – or even less.
“Jackets on? Jackets off? Do we take our coats off?” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked as he sat down at the table in Bavaria’s picturesque Elmau Castle.
The leaders pondered the dilemma.
Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, suggested they wait for the official picture before disrobing but then Johnson quipped “We have to show that we’re tougher than Putin” and the joke kept rolling.
“We’re going to get the bare-chested horseback riding display,” Trudeau said, referring to Putin’s infamous 2009 photo-op of himself riding shirtless on a horse.
“Horseback riding is the best,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, without apparently weighing in on the clothing issue itself.
Johnson interjected: “We’ve got to show them our pecs.”
The leaders posed – jackets on – for photos before reporters were hustled out of the room, leaving the sartorial debate behind closed doors.