US President Joe Biden listens to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Western allies will support Ukraine “as long as it takes,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Friday when he visited the White House for a private meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden.

The two leaders are meeting as the war heads into a difficult next phase that includes renewed concerns about a moderate political will to maintain billion-dollar military aid to Kyiv.

“This is a very, very important year because of the dangerous threat to peace that comes from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Scholz said.

The two leaders said they would continue to work “hand in hand” and Biden thanked Scholz for helping “keep the pressure up” on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

China was not mentioned during their brief public remarks in the Oval Office, although the meeting comes amid growing fears between the two countries that Beijing could stand aside and supply weapons to Russia. .

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