WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden has confused a European leader with a dead predecessor for the second time in a week, telling a campaign event he met Helmut Kohl four years after the German chancellor passed away.

The 81-year-old’s gaffe late on Wednesday came days after he said he had spoken to long-dead French president Francois Mitterand, instead of current leader Emmanuel Macron, at the same G7 summit in June 2021 where he said he had met Kohl.

Biden, who is seeking reelection in November, often tells the same story about the summit held in the United Kingdom to illustrate what he says were global concerns about the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump. “Helmut Kohl of Germany looked at me and said, ‘what would you say Mr President, if you picked up the London Times tomorrow morning and learned that 1,000 people had broken down the doors... of the British Parliament and killed some (people) on the way in (to) deny the prime minister to take office,’” Biden said, according to a pool report.

Angela Merkel, Germany’s first female chancellor, was the leader attending the summit. Kohl died in 2017 and was chancellor for 16 years from 1982 to 1998, becoming known as the architect of German reunification after the Cold War.

The mix-up is the second in the space of a few days.

At a campaign event in Las Vegas on Sunday, Biden was talking about French president Macron’s reaction to his 2020 election win over Trump at the summit.

“And Mitterrand from Germany — I mean, from France — looked at me and said, ‘You know, what — why — how long you back for?’” Biden said. A later White House transcript inserted the correct name, Macron, in brackets.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2024

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