British PM Rishi Sunak to meet Biden next week during US visit

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will hold talks with US President Joe Biden next week in Washington where they will discuss improving economic ties and how to sustain military support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

Sunak will be in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday next week and meet Biden, members of Congress and US business leaders, Sunak’s spokesman said on Tuesday.

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“The visit will be an opportunity to build on the discussions that the prime minister and President Biden have had in recent months about enhancing the level of cooperation and coordination between the UK and US on the economic challenges that will define our future,” the spokesman said.

“There will also be an opportunity to discuss issues including sustaining our support for Ukraine.”

Sunak wants to forge better relations with the United States after they were strained by Britain’s departure from the European Union at the end of 2020.

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 traveled 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 US President Donald Trump’s administration, before Biden came to power and then the talks stalled.

Sunak’s spokesman said on Tuesday it was unlikely there would be a discussion about a free-trade agreement on this visit and there would instead be a focus on reducing trade barriers in other ways such as agreements with individual states.

Britain’s relationship with the United States is partly built on close defense, 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.

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