Biden speaks with Germany's Scholz, discusses Russian buildup near Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the start of a virtual summit with leaders from democratic nations at the State Department's Summit for Democracy, at the White House, in Washington, U.S. December 9, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON, Dec 10 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday to congratulate him on his appointment, and the two leaders discussed issues including efforts to address Russia's military buildup near Ukraine, the White House said.

"Today, I spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to congratulate him on his appointment," Biden said in a Twitter post.

Biden "reaffirmed his support for robust U.S.-German relations and desire to further strengthen transatlantic cooperation," the White House said.

It said the two leaders discussed issues including "continued efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic, counter the threat of climate change, and address Russia’s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine."

Scholz, a Social Democrat, became Germany's chancellor on Wednesday, ending 16 years of conservative rule under Angela Merkel and launching his three-way coalition that has pledged to boost green investment and strengthen European integration. read more

Biden has said he made it clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a two-hour virtual meeting on Tuesday that there would be economic consequences like none before if Russia invaded Ukraine.

During the meeting, Putin demanded guarantees that NATO would not expand farther eastward.

Earlier on Friday, Scholz said he was "deeply concerned" about the Russian troop buildup along the Ukrainian border and "that's why it's important that Europe be firm in this area and show clearly that Europe's borders are inviolable." read more

Preparations for punitive measures against the Russian economy were discussed in a call between U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and German Finance Minister Christian Lindner on Friday.

Yellen "expressed her interest in partnering with Germany on contingencies that could be rapidly deployed to impose severe costs on Russia’s economy," the U.S. Treasury Department said.

Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Mark Porter

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