Thursday, July 25, 2024

UK should strengthen ties with EU: Biden to Starmer

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Joe Biden has shown support for Keir Starmer’s goal of fostering a closer relationship between the UK and the European Union during their first bilateral talks at the White House.

US president called US and UK the best of allies as he met the new UK prime minister.

Biden said, “I kind of see you guys as the knot tying the transatlantic alliance together, the closer you are with Europe,” he told Starmer.

Biden has maintained a strong interest in Brexit, consistently cautioning that peace in Northern Ireland must not be endangered by complications arising from the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Notably, UK PM has used the Nato summit to emphasise UK’s commitment to the alliance, as well as to Ukraine, assuring that he will stick with plans to spend at least £3bn every year on military support to Kyiv for “as long as is it takes” in its conflict with Russia.

Starmer is also trying to build relationships with European leaders as he tries to seal an EU-UK security pact.

“The relationship is special and important. It’s forged in difficult circumstances, endured for so long, and stronger now than ever,” UK PM said and added, “I’m very contented to be able to come so early in government to recommit to NATO, to recommit to the special relationship.”

At the beginning of their talks, Biden was asked by reporters about George Clooney’s article in the New York Times, which suggested that Biden should step down as the Democratic presidential candidate. The president simply shrugged in response.

When asked by reporters if “football is coming home”? “It looks like it,” Starmer replied.

UK PM told the US President, “I began to watch the game with the Netherlands prime minister, but we left at 1-1.”

Biden threw his head back and laughed, revealing a glistening set of teeth. “And you guys are still talking to one another?” he joked.

Earlier, the prime minister, an avid football fan, presented the president with an Arsenal shirt featuring the name “Biden” and the number 46 on the back—a nod to his position as the 46th U.S. president. 

“It’s [Starmer’s] team and [he] thought it would make a personal gift,” a senior No 10 official said. 

Starmer has earlier given the French president Emmanuel Macron an Arsenal t-shirt as a gift.

He also gave Biden a framed copy of the original Atlantic charter that led to the formation of Nato, with then Labour prime minister Clement Attlee’s amendments.

After the talks, the Bidens were hosting Starmer, who has been accompanied by his wife, Victoria, to Washington, and other Nato leaders and their partners at a glitzy White House dinner.

(With inputs from agencies)

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