Welcoming Angela Merkel to the White House for a final time, US President Joe Biden renewed his concerns to the outgoing German chancellor Thursday about a major, nearly complete Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline but said they agreed Russia must not be allowed to use energy as a weapon.
The two discussed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline during a largely friendly farewell visit for Merkel as she nears the end of a political career that has witnessed four American Presidencies.
"We stand together and will continue to stand together to defend our eastern flank allies at Nato against Russian aggression," Mr Biden told Thursday's joint news conference with Mrs Merkel.
He acknowledged the two did not see eye to eye on the nearly complete $11bn (£8bn) Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. The White House has said it will be used by Russia as leverage over Ukraine and other neighbours.
"Good friends can disagree," said Mr Biden, who recently waived sanctions against Nord Stream 2.
The US president also said: "We will stand up for democratic principles and human rights when we see China or any other country working to undermine free and open societies."
Merkel, who had a famously difficult relationship with former US President Donald Trump, showed her ease and familiarity with Biden, who also has long been a fixture in international politics, repeatedly refering to him as "Dear Joe".
Asked to comapare her relationship wtih Biden to hers with Trumo, Merkel remained diplomatic, saying only that it was in any German chancellor's interest to "work with every American president". She added with a smile, "Today was a very friendly exchange".
Mr Biden also told reporters the US had no plans "at the moment" to send troops to Haiti amid growing unrest after the assassination of its president.
Asked about ongoing protests in Cuba, Mr Biden said the "failed state" was repressing its citizens.
The United States has long argued that the Nord Stream 2 project will threaten European energy security by increasing the continent's reliance on Russia gas and allowing Russia to exert political pressure on vulnerable Eastern and Central European nations, particularly Ukraine.