Biden wanted first call to foreign leader to be to Angela Merkel, but she blew him off, report

Business Insider US
  • Angela Merkel blew off Biden when he tried to call her first after taking office, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Merkel brushed off the "symbolism" of Biden wanting to reach out to her before other world leaders as "irrelevant."
  • The snub from Merkel, who is stepping down as German chancellor, shows disillusionment with the Trans-Atlantic alliance.
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German chancellor Angela Merkel blew off US President Joe Biden when he tried to call her shortly after his inauguration because she was spending time at her weekend country house, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Biden, the Journal said, wanted to place his first call to a foreign leader to Merkel to fulfill one of his top priorities on the campaign trail of restoring the US' strong relationships with its foreign allies and partners, which were severely strained under former US President Donald Trump.

But Merkel, the Journal said, "dismissed the symbolism as irrelevant" and asked her aides to set up a call with Biden at a later date.

Biden's first call to a foreign leader as president instead went to the United Kingdom's Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Merkel, who assumed leadership of Germany's conservative party in 2000 and became chancellor in 2005, is stepping down as the country's leader after 16 years in charge.

The election to replace her and determine the country's governing coalition, one of the most unpredictable and consequential in recent German history, is taking place on Sunday.

Once the results of the election are settled and a new chancellor is chosen, Merkel is planning to take some time off and potentially travel in the future.

"I have decided for myself that, first of all, I will do nothing and just wait for what comes up," Merkel said an event earlier in September, Bloomberg reported.

Merkel was one of the most consequential leaders shaping the course of the European Union in the past 15 years. But, the Journal reported, her snub of Biden's outreach attempt reflects her and other leaders' increasing frustration and disillusionment with the decades-old Trans-Atlantic partnership, a major challenge Biden will continue to confront.

The Journal reported that Merkel and other EU leaders "share a sense that the US has become a fickle and unreliable partner linked to Europe by a shrinking list of common interests," a trend that predates Trump.

The Biden administration has so far struggled in its attempts to repair the US' relationship with allies, between the at-times chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan and a diplomatic dustup with France over its exclusion from a partnership between the US, the UK, and Australia on a nuclear submarine deal to counter China's influence.

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