Biden to host Sunak for talks


Sunak is slated to visit Washington on June 7-8 and will also meet US lawmakers and business leaders in addition to his Oval Office meeting with Biden…reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden will host Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the White House next week for talks on Ukraine, climate issues and more.

Sunak is slated to visit Washington on June 7-8 and will also meet with U.S. lawmakers and business leaders in addition to his Oval Office meeting next Thursday with Biden.

The meeting comes after the White House announced earlier this month that Biden was endorsing an international effort forged by the U.K. and other allies to train — and eventually equip — Ukraine with the F-16 fighter jets that President Volodymyr Zelesnkky has long sought. Biden is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark, another key partner in the F-16 effort, on Monday.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that the two leaders are also expected the U.S.-U.K. economic relationship and developments in Northern Ireland. British officials downplayed hopes that the visit would produce significant action toward forging a new U.S.-U.K. trade agreement, which the British government accepts is dead for now.

Sunak spokesman Max Blain said he wouldn’t expect either side to be pushing for that, adding “We are not seeking to pursue a free-trade deal with the U.S. currently.”

In April, a White House official was forced to deny Biden was “anti-British” after he spent over half a day in the British province of Northern Ireland before he travelled south to the Irish Republic for two-and-a-half days of meetings.

The Biden administration has shown little interest in negotiating a free-trade agreement with the United Kingdom, which British supporters of leaving the EU once touted as one of the main benefits of its departure from the bloc.

Discussions had progressed during former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, before Biden came to power and then the talks stalled.

Sunak’s spokesman said on Tuesday there would not be talks about a free-trade agreement on this visit, but instead there would be a focus on reducing trade barriers in other ways such as agreements with individual states.

The White House said in a statement the two leaders would also discuss the situation in Northern Ireland, which has been without a devolved government for more than a year.

Britain’s relationship with the United States is partly built on close defence, intelligence, economic and cultural ties and the two sides are largely in lockstep in supporting Ukraine.

Sunak accepted Biden’s invitation to visit the White House in March when the two leaders met in San Diego to inaugurate the next phase of a submarine alliance between the United States, Britain, and Australia, known as AUKUS.

The two men appeared to get along well on that visit, with Biden noting that Sunak is a graduate of Stanford University and asking for a visit to the home he still owns in Santa Monica.

Sunak is not the only UK politician who is keen to go to the US.

Last week, Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves also visited Washington to outline the party’s economic plans if it gets into government.

In a speech at the Peterson Institute in Washington DC, Reeves outlined a mission to ensure economic security across the UK by rebuilding Britain’s “industrial foundation”.

This will mean “investing in the sectors and technologies that will determine our future economic success”, she said.

Reeves dubbed her strategy “securonomics”, which she said would mean a bigger role for the government in running the free-market economy and fostering new partnerships with international allies.

She also heaped praise on Biden for “rebuilding America’s economic security” and for his landmark Inflation Reduction Act. Biden met the prime minister during his trip to Northern Ireland but spent much of the four-day visit in the Irish Republic.

The trip came after the UK and EU agreed and signed the Windsor Framework, which the two sides hope will fix the problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol and allow a government to be restored.

However, power sharing has not yet returned, with the Democratic Unionist Party refusing to rejoin proceedings at Stormont. Local elections in Northern Ireland earlier this month saw Sinn Fein become the largest party of local government for the first time.

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