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Biden meets Sunak in London, marking their sixth meeting in five months

President Biden Meets P.M. Sunak in London, Strengthening the Long-Term Relationship between the United States and Britain

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President Biden and King Charles review royal guards at Windsor Castle ahead of a meeting with philanthropists about financing clean energy projects in developing countries affected by climate change.[Susan Walsh/AP]

The chemistry between the President and the Prime Minister is the question on everybody’s mind as they meet in London for the sixth time in five months. From their previous meetings in San Diego, California, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Hiroshima, Japan, Washington, and now London, President Biden has expressed his satisfaction, stating that he “couldn’t be meeting with a closer friend.” He further emphasizes that their relationship is “rock solid.” Prime Minister Sunak warmly welcomed President Biden to No. 10 Downing Street, marking their first meeting during his presidency on July 10, 2023.

The meeting, held ahead of President Biden’s NATO gathering with 31 member nations in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11, lasted for 28 minutes and included a cup of tea in the garden at Downing Street.

President Biden, aged 80, is in the UK for a visit to King Charles III at Windsor Castle, which resembles a state visit with an honor guard and accompanying pomp and ceremony, scheduled for this afternoon. Climate change is a key topic on their agenda, as both the King and the President share a passion for addressing this global issue, although the King’s position as a monarch may limit his commitment.

While this trip aims to foster and strengthen the close relationship between the United States and Britain, the two countries have already been collaborating on various fronts. The US has been working with Britain on initiatives such as AUKUS and the Atlantic Declaration negotiated with Prime Minister Sunak during their meeting in Washington. Additionally, the ongoing partnership in NATO and other areas solidifies their ties.

In return, Britain has much to offer in terms of Sweden’s accession to NATO, India’s relationship with Russia, and addressing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, the US is keen to establish a counterbalance against China in Taiwan.

In President Biden’s agenda, the topic of Ukraine’s desire to join NATO without undergoing full “American democratization” holds lesser importance. On the other hand, Britain does not expect the US to provide immediate trade support after Brexit, nor does the US desire a British replacement when the incumbent NATO Secretary General, Jens Stolberg, retires. The divisive question of Northern Ireland after Brexit is also an area where the US stands firmly with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which brought an end to the conflict between the parties.

Frequent meetings between the British Prime Minister and the US President have been essential because Britain has served as a go-between for the US and Europe in recent times. Furthermore, Britain has become a reliable partner for the US, contributing to security, new technology, and economic advantages during turbulent times. Notably, the AUKUS agreement is expected to benefit Britain, potentially resulting in work for the British shipyard in Barrow in Furness, Cumbria.

Other benefits for Britain include economic partnerships in areas like artificial intelligence (AI) through the recently concluded Atlantic Declaration, as well as opportunities for British-manufactured vehicles to enter the US market.

The long-term relationship between Britain and the United States is a mutual endeavour that provides benefits for both countries. It is evident that there are influential figures in high places who support the US in Britain, just as there are numerous Anglophiles in the US who work to safeguard British interests. This relationship operates as a two-way street, strengthening ties between the nations.

Victor Cherubim

Victor Cherubim is a London-based writer and a frequent columnist of the Sri Lanka Guardian

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