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Germany, US discuss Nord Stream 2 in Washington, Berlin says

Spirit of Europe Nord Stream Sign Tallinn (Pjotr Mahhonin/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Germany and the United States are holding talks in Washington to try to settle a dispute over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters on June 1.

“As you know, talks are currently being held between the German government and the administration in Washington,” Maas said, adding that Germany had an interest in reaching agreement with the United States.

“This will be the topic of the talks in Washington,” Maas said without giving further details. “I am confident that we will succeed in finding a way, even though it will certainly not be easy and may not happen quickly.”

The pipeline, which is about 95 percent complete and could be finished by September, was at the center of a political tussle between Berlin and Washington during the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump. Since coming into office in January, U.S. President Joe Biden has sought to heal relations with Europe after they were bruised under his predecessor.

Germany’s Funke Media Group reported on May 31 that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had sent two of her top aides to Washington to work on a compromise deal on Nord Stream 2 ahead of Biden’s visit to Europe in mid-June.

U.S. officials have warned that the pipeline will make Europe more dependent on Russian energy supplies and bypass Ukraine, which relies on gas transit fees.

The German government has refused to halt the project, arguing that it is a commercial venture and a sovereign issue.

Biden, who will meet separately with Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin during his trip to Europe, said the Germans were aware of U.S. concerns.

The Biden administration on May 19 sanctioned several companies and ships for their work on Nord Stream 2, but waived penalties on the firm behind the Baltic Sea project — Nord Stream 2 AG — and its chief executive, Matthias Warnig, a close ally of Putin.

Russia’s state-controlled energy giant Gazprom is the majority shareholder in the Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 AG.