Biden meets with German Chancellor Merkel

Vice President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel address journalists at the chancellery in Berlin on February 1, 2013. Biden is in Germany for talks with the German chancellor ahead of the Munich Security Conference.

Kicking off his first overseas trip during his second term, Vice President Joe Biden met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel today in Berlin and hailed Germany as "an absolutely essential, critical partner."

"It's a delight to be back in Germany," Biden said, joking that "The president, since I'm vice president, sends me mostly to Afghanistan and Iraq."

Biden also addressed the suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey that claimed the life of one embassy guard, saying he appreciates the Germans' "expression of sympathy," and adding that the incident "reinforces" the "very close counterterrorism cooperation that exists between Germany and the United States."

The vice president, who is expected to discuss a wide range of issues with German officials, also said that one purpose of the trip was to express that "we're in the very good shape in terms of our so-called fiscal crisis, as it's always characterized. I think it's less of a crisis than people think."

Biden did not address the ongoing civil war in Syria, a primary focus of his trip. On Saturday, he will deliver remarks at the Munich Security Conference before heading to France and the United Kingdom to complete the three-country trip.

During his trip, Biden will meet with a number of world leaders, including Syrian opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib. Biden will also meet with Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations and Arab League special representative for Syria, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Russia is Syria's strongest international ally, though the U.S. maintains that no amount of international will keep Syrian President Bashar Assad in power.