US President Joe Biden arrived in Downing Street today to meet with British Prime Minster Rishi Sunak, where Ukraine is expected to dominate their discussions.
The two leaders are set to reaffirm their commitment to the NATO alliance and the security of Europe amid rising tensions with Russia over its military buildup near the Ukrainian border.
Biden and Sunak will also discuss the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, trade and human rights. This is the first official visit of Biden to the UK since he took office in January, and the second time he has met with Sunak, who became prime minister in October after Boris Johnson resigned.
The meeting comes ahead of a crucial NATO summit in Brussels on Wednesday, where Biden will seek to rally allies to present a united front against Russia’s aggression and deter any further escalation of the crisis.
Biden has repeatedly expressed his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and has warned Russia of “severe consequences” if it invades its neighbor.
He has also pledged to provide additional defensive weapons and economic assistance to Ukraine, and has urged European allies to do the same. Sunak, who has a close personal relationship with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has also condemned Russia’s actions and called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The meeting between Biden and Sunak is also an opportunity to strengthen the bilateral ties between the US and the UK, which have been strained by Brexit and other issues.
The two leaders are expected to announce a new trade deal that will boost economic cooperation and create jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
Biden and Sunak will also address the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 5 million lives worldwide and disrupted global supply chains. They will review the progress of their vaccination campaigns and share best practices on how to contain the spread of new variants.
They will also reaffirm their commitment to donate vaccines to low- and middle-income countries through the COVAX facility, and to support the World Health Organization’s efforts to improve global health security. Finally, Biden and Sunak will exchange views on human rights and democracy, which they regard as core values of their partnership.
They will express their concern about the situation in Myanmar, where a military coup has triggered a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. They will also call for the release of detained journalists and activists in Belarus, Hong Kong, Iran and other countries where civil liberties are under threat.
They will reiterate their support for the people of Afghanistan, who are facing a humanitarian crisis under Taliban rule. The meeting between Biden and Sunak is expected to last for about an hour, after which they will hold a joint press conference.