BERLIN (AP) — The U.S. and Germany must stand “side by side” in handling the coronavirus pandemic, fighting global warming and terrorism, and in working for “an open global economy and free trade,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday.

President-elect Joe Biden brings decades of experience in domestic and foreign policy to the job, and “he knows Germany and Europe well,” Merkel said in her first comments in person on the election outcome. The chancellor had congratulated Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in writing on Saturday.

“The United States of America and Germany as part of the European Union must stand together to deal with the great challenges of our time,” Merkel said in a statement to reporters in Berlin. “Side by side in the difficult test of the corona pandemic, side by side in the fight against global warming and its global consequences, (and) in the fight against terrorism, side by side for an open world economy and free trade, because those are the foundations of our prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Biden will be the fourth U.S. president that Merkel — who has led Germany since 2005 — has dealt with as chancellor. Relations with current President Donald Trump have often been frosty; Merkel stands for a multilateral approach to global affairs and is firmly behind efforts to combat climate change.

The German leader, whose country has faced U.S. pressure since even before the Trump administration to increase its defense spending, said: “We Germans and Europeans know that we must take on more responsibility of our own in this partnership in the 21st century.”

“America is and remains our most important ally but it expects of us — and rightly — greater efforts of our own to take care of our security and to stand up for our convictions in the world,” Merkel added. “And we Europeans have long since set out along this road.”

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