Biden thanks Scholz for leadership on Ukraine crisis at G7 summit

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomes U.S. President Joe Biden ahead of their meeting on the day of G7 leaders summit at Bavaria's Schloss Elmau castle, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, June 26, 2022. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/Pool

SCHLOSS ELMAU, Germany (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden thanked German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for his leadership on the response to the Ukraine crisis shortly after arriving for a summit of the Group of Seven rich democracies in a Bavarian mountain resort on Sunday.

Biden, fresh from mass administered to him in Schloss Elmau by a U.S. army chaplain, told Scholz that his leadership had been crucial in marshalling Europe's response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

"I want to compliment you on stepping up as you did when you became Chancellor," Biden told a beaming Scholz. "Putin's been counting on it from the beginning, that somehow NATO and the G7 would splinter, but we haven't and it's not going to," he said.

Scholz has been under fire at home for alleged dithering over what kind of weapons Europe's richest country should send Kyiv in its fight against Russian forces in its east. Scholz has always rejected these criticisms.

"It's a good message that we all managed to stay united, which, obviously, Putin never expected," Scholz said.

The two then moved to an open-air conference room where they held bilateral talks with a handful of close advisers.

(Additional reporting by Sarah Marsh and Thomas Escritt; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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