President Biden on Wednesday met with new British Prime Minister Liz Truss in New York City, telling her that the UK is “our closest ally in the world.”
Biden and Truss, who took office just two weeks ago, were unable to meet Monday when Biden attended Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London and met instead after Biden spoke at the annual United Nations General Assembly.
“I was amazed and overwhelmed by the affection of the British people and the world, quite frankly, even I mean the thousands and thousands of people who stayed all night just to pay their respects was enormous,” Biden said told Truss.
“And I want to extend my congratulations to you, Madam Prime Minister … and I look forward to working closely with you. You’re our closest ally in the world. And there’s a lot we can do, continue to do together.”
Biden, appearing to read from notes, said the leaders would privately discuss NATO efforts to reverse Russia’s nearly seven-month-old invasion of Ukraine — as well as efforts to reach a new border agreement between the UK and Ireland after British voters opted to leave the European Union.
“There’s no issue that I can think of a global consequence where the United States and United Kingdom are not working in cooperation. And I expect to continue to be able to do that,” Biden told Truss.
“And we have a full agenda today from supporting Ukraine … as it defends itself against Russia and [President Vladimir] Putin’s challenges, as well as China — and it’s, uh, posed by preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons as well. There’s a lot on the agenda.”
“We also want to talk about energy,” Biden added, “which understandably is of significant consequence to all of Europe and Great Britain and England — the United Kingdom in particular. And finally, we both are committed to protecting the gains of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. I’m looking forward to hearing what’s on your mind and how we can continue to cooperate.”
Truss, 47, was formerly an anti-monarchy activist but told Biden that Elizabeth II was “the rock on which modern Britain was built.”
The prime minister said she wanted to discuss “energy security” with Biden, referring to Russian actions to throttle natural gas exports to Western Europe to punish NATO for sanctioning Russians and arming Ukraine.
The term “energy security” in US politics often is used by conservatives to advocate for greater domestic production of fossil fuels, generally in opposition to policies promoted by Democrats to discourage such energy sources in favor of options like windmills and solar power.
“We’re very grateful for all the support that you have given us over … what has been two very difficult weeks in the United Kingdom as we move towards the reign of King Charles III and we enter a new era,” Truss told Biden.
“And as you say, Mr. President, we are steadfast allies. And I’ve enjoyed working with [Secretary of State] Tony Blinken very closely in our response on Russia’s appalling war in Ukraine, and making sure that we are supporting the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom.”
“We face huge challenges as autocracies seek to cement and increase their assertiveness around the world. And that is why we’re stepping up in terms of our defense spending, we’re going to be moving to 3% of GDP on defense spending,” she added.
“And that’s why we want to work more closely with the United States, especially on energy security, on our economic security, but also in reaching out to fellow democracies around the world to make sure that democracies prevail and we protect the freedom and future of our citizens.”
Truss didn’t publicly offer any details on plans to broker a new deal with Ireland on trade and freedom of movement, but said, “of course, I’m looking forward to discussing the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and how we make sure that’s upheld into the future.”
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